If you go through a checkout stand at a supermarket and have even glanced at a tabloid cover, you likely know that reality star Bruce Jenner is reportedly becoming a woman.
Such a high profile celebrity and former athlete being transgender is, not surprisingly, big news. It is also a good opportunity for the public to learn more about the issue because nothing gets our and the media’s attention more than celebrity news. Mix that with sports, the Kardashians and sexuality, and you have truly hit the mother lode of what makes headlines in this country.
But that is part of the problem. The news surrounding this has been more like a circus and, in some ways, a joke for a lot of people. A large factor is the fact that Jenner is part of the whole Kardashian clan and any news related to that family is often met with suspicion and a shrug for fear that we and the media are being manipulated. Some in the transgender community seemed excited to have such a high profile person coming out as one of them. But others are concerned this is about nothing more than publicity and build up for a new reality show spin-off.
Zoey Tur, a transgender leader, told TMZ Live, “A lot of people are suspicious of what is going on because of the connection with the Kardashians. And they feel if Bruce is transgender come out with it. Speak up. Transgenders have a 42% suicide attempt rate, 6 times the national average on suicide.
We need our role models. And there is no greater role model than the world’s greatest athlete...Many feel Jenner is pitching a reality show and using this buildup to gain more momentum and get paid to do an interview and they don’t like it because this is a civil rights matter. This is not about selling TV shows...How much money do you need?”
I agree that Bruce Jenner is possibly the best person to bring this important topic to the public forefront due to his public celebrity as an athlete and Kardashian media empire member. But I do get the point that all this hoopla and dragging it out, over time and for the media, is making it more circus-like.
Coming out as transgender must be very difficult for anybody. So I do believe every person who does so certainly has the right to decide for themselves the time, place and manner in which they do it. I have no issues with Jenner being transgender. More power to him. But the issue is way too important for it to become a punchline and tabloid fodder. Arguably that doesn’t make public acceptance better, it makes it worse.
At the moment we don’t really know where Jenner is going with this other than he plans to confirm it in an exclusive interview with Diane Sawyer and document the process with that TV series if it is picked up. So who knows, maybe the whole thing will end up being treated with the proper seriousness and respect down the road. And then there would be some serious gains from all this. But somehow, call me crazy, I just don’t believe reality TV will treat this like a simple documentary. I expect the whole Kardashian brood will somehow become part of this. When that happens, seriousness and respect will be very low on the chart of show requirements.
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