How Bruce Jenner’s Transition Is Representing What A ‘Hero’ Really Is

Above: Bruce Jenner tells Diane Sawyer "I've Always Had the Soul of a Woman" in the two-hour 20/20 special
Above: Bruce Jenner tells Diane Sawyer "I've Always Had the Soul of a Woman" in the two-hour 20/20 special

For a lot of people, it’s really hard to imagine what it would be like to feel like you aren’t the gender you were born embodying. Typically, gender has been seen as an absolute. Physically, you’re either born with male parts, or female parts, and you really don’t have any choice in the matter. But transgendered people are coming forward now to say that gender is not fixed. It’s not a what you see is what you get thing. And you do have a choice.

Speculation about whether or not Bruce Jenner is transitioning to life as a woman has been going on for awhile now, and he finally decided to address the issue head on in an interview with Diane Sawyer. “Are you a woman?” she asked. “Yes,” he answered. “For all intents and purposes, I am a woman.” This was the first time Jenner was answering the question in no uncertain terms, and being completely honest about what he’s been going through.

At 65, Jenner has lived a full life. He is a gold medal-winning Olympian, was married three times, and has six children. And yet, every day he was struggling with the knowledge that he didn’t feel like he was a man. What he really wanted was to live a life as the woman he felt he was on the inside.

The support for Jenner since the interview aired on ABC on Friday has been overwhelming. Celebrities like Lady Gaga, Ellen Degeneres, and of course the entire Kardashian clan, have tweeted their support for Jenner, and the transgender community as a whole. He is even being called a hero for having the strength to not only accept himself, but essentially tell the whole world, transgender or not, that it’s okay to be who you are.

A hero is defined as a person who, in the face of danger and adversity or from a position of weakness, displays courage or self-sacrifice for some greater good, and that’s exactly what Bruce Jenner is doing. Along with other transgender people in the spotlight, like Chaz Bono, and Laverne Cox, Jenner is giving people struggling with their identity a reason to believe that it will all work out, and they are not alone.

For anyone who thought the speculation surrounding Bruce Jenner’s maybe-probably transition to being a woman was most likely just another way to drum up publicity, Friday’s 20/20 interview was a huge wake up call. Jenner himself laughed at Diane Sawyer’s suggestion that there are people out there thinking he’s doing all of this for attention. “Are you telling me I’m going to go through a complete gender change, and go through everything you need to do that, for the show? Sorry, Diane, it ain’t happening,” he said.

The very thought that someone would choose to go to such extremes, and lie about who they are, simply as a publicity stunt, is exactly the opposite of what Jenner is really doing. To him, “Bruce” is a lie. His masculine persona, including his former image as a top athlete, has been a character he’s been playing to hide who he truly feels he is inside. Now, he’s choosing to reveal the real him, and it just so happens that he has the opportunity to share his story, and hopefully help other people going through the same thing.

There’s been a lot of focus on transgender issues lately, and although Jenner is technically under no obligation to share his experiences with the world, the fact that he’s doing so anyway, shows incredible bravery. He knows that in order for the world to accept trans people and be understanding of their struggles, we have to talk about it. There are some things a lot of us will never fully understand because we haven’t experienced it, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be open to learning, and accepting of what other people are going through.

“We’re going to make a difference in the world with what we’re doing,” Bruce said of his plan to continue sharing his story. With an 8-episode docu-series set to air on E! in July following Jenner’s transition journey, he’s clearly prepared to help educate the world on what being transgender really means. Education is the first step in acceptance, and hopefully Bruce Jenner’s story is only the beginning.

Instead of hiding what is probably an incredibly difficult thing to share with the entire world, Jenner has embraced his position in the spotlight, and is using it to spread a positive message. His role in the Kardashian empire has given him the opportunity to change how people think about gender, and that’s going to change millions of lives. What could be more heroic than that?

Courtney Hardwick

Courtney Hardwick

Courtney Hardwick is a freelance writer based in Toronto. Her work has appeared on AmongMen.com, 29secrets.com, therichest.com, and ELLECanada.com.  When she isn’t writing about relationships, and the best TV shows and books you should really already know about, she is working on her novel. She hopes to have it published by 2025. You can follow her on Twitter @Courtooo.

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