Bruce Jenner and I

I am rarely awake at 11:00 p.m., but I was glued right to the last moment of the Bruce Jenner interview. I had watched every minute of his performance in the 1976 Olympics and I follow news about all things transgender, so I anticipated the interview for weeks.

As things were coming to a head for me, I longed to piggyback on his making public his transition. The stinker in me wanted to post, the day after, “I am Bruce Jenner.” I couldn’t do that, but it constantly came into my head. Every day, I wondered how I could use this for good. In the end, it had no influence on when and how I went about sharing my story, yet your feedback is telling me the timing was helpful.

The Jenner interview began and I was thankful the main question—are you transitioning?—was asked and answered immediately. For the next two hours, I often found myself stone-faced, teary-eyed, riveted to his face. “That’s me,” my inner voice spoke. “That’s what I went through.” “That’s how I feel.”

Some folks have noted how Jenner and I are similar in two ways. We both are men in public positions, and that we are males is key to our being known. On the one hand, he’s way more famous; on the other hand, my being male is more vital to my work. The Olympics is open to males and females; the ministry in my church body is a male-only domain.

There are many things on which I am treading lightly in public, and yearn to find the better way to write about them now. When he says, “I am a woman,” I am quite sure no one wants to hear those words from my lips. Actually, I know that I am not a woman. I know I am a male as far as goes my DNA. Yet, I have spent a lifetime dealing with feeling like a female and, since 2013, feeling so female that living as a woman has often seemed the only answer to reaching some level of contentment. So, Bruce, I hear you loud and clear.

I was surprised to learn that he was on hormone replacement therapy for five years in the 1980s. The surprise quickly dissipated as I pondered my own life and the need to hide, to conform, to suppress this thing.

Jenner spoke well to a topic that is terribly misunderstood: gender versus sex. We, with gender dysphoria and those transgendered, define these thus: gender is the mental aspect—how we see ourselves—and sex is physical—how we are seen. As one writer put it (more bluntly than I would): sex is who you go to bed with; gender is who you go to bed as.

Gender dysphoria and transgenderism is not about sex. I find that to be the biggest misconception. Jenner answered the common question: are you heterosexual or homosexual? He told us that he has always been attracted to women. I have always been attracted to women.

This hints at the internal struggle. I was a young guy, highly attracted to girls, wanting to date, to be with girls whom I found cute and fun and interesting, yet they intimidated me. From my reading, I have found this common among gender dysphoric boys. I wanted to be with a girl, and I so wanted to be that girl.

To be a young man, sexually driven just like the rest of the guys, yet with a female mind driving me intellectually and emotionally, was a grand battle, one which has never subsided. I have learned that my fear of girls is typical of teenaged boys like me. I even feared the guys; they, too, intimidated me. I very selectively had only one or two guy friends at a time. At the time, I thought it was nothing more than being shy.

That Jenner excelled as an athlete is common for males with gender dysphoria. Men, who cannot fathom that they ever will be able to transition, seek very male, physical activities. The number of trans women who have been in the military, even gaining high rank and valor, is astounding. Many trans women are professional people: teachers, doctors, lawyers, ministers. The point? We plunge ourselves into whatever we can to try to drown that screaming voice in our head.

I have been asked if I became a minister to run away from my dysphoria, and if I thought I should not have become a pastor because of it. Since all people have weaknesses, great challenges, faults, and sins, no, I never thought I should have stayed away from the ministry. Besides, I never imagined not being able to manage my condition.

What I did hope—much as with my desire when I fell in love— was that immersing myself in the Bible I would drown those thoughts, finally get rid of them. As I look back, I was terribly naive. As I listened to Bruce Jenner, he did the same thing in using athletics. Nothing in his world allowed him to think he could ever jump the greatest hurdle of his life.

What from the interview have I missed?

Bruce Jenner is transitioning. What does that entail? Does everyone do it the same? If you would like me to explain about that, let me know.

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2 thoughts on “Bruce Jenner and I

  1. I have to disagree with Bruce Jenner’s transition for multiple reasons, though I’ll only discuss a few of them right here (mostly because the other reasons are better suited to your other posts). So he feels like he’s really a woman, but what does transitioning into a woman’s body accomplish? Sure, physically he’ll be a woman, but it’s not real. He’s still a man, only now he’s a man who has the appearance and traits of a woman. Deep down inside, he’s gotta know that he will never truly be a woman. No matter how much science and money he throws into it, he can only go so far.

    I think one of the scary things that we have not yet seen in Bruce is how he will wake up every morning and see himself. No doubt, the media wants to lavish him with praise and place him up on a lofty throne, but once the fanfare and attention are done and over with, how will he be? I wonder if he will get up and look in the mirror every morning proud of what he has become or will he look at old photos of himself and think “I’ve made a mistake”? Or after a few years of just going through how much time a woman spends in the bathroom getting ready every morning will he think to himself, “WHAT WAS I THINKING!?” 😛

    Kidding aside, there’s going to be whole new psychological ramifications that he’s going to have to deal with and struggle with that from what I can tell, the media simply isn’t going to address. I challenge the news to follow up with him over the coming years and ask him the hard questions about the new mental struggles he’s going through because he will have them. I hope the best for Bruce, I really do, but I honestly don’t see the world hearing about the negative consequences of his actions unless he dies tragically. I hate to say it, but unless that happens, the only thing the media is going to do is put him up on a pedestal as a great inspiration for all of those who feel as you do. And the mainstream media is not going to inform them of the problems Bruce faces and the new psychological hurdles he must deal with.

    The next section may seem disjointed from the rest, but that’s because I wrote them before I wrote paragraphs two and three.

    An argument I often hear from those who are going through a sex change is that gender is a social construct and doesn’t define who they are. By having a sex change, they are just being themselves. The problem with this line of thought is that it’s a self defeating argument. If gender is a social construct, then one doesn’t need a sex change to be who they are because their gender does not define them. The physical sex organs are totally irrelevant. By having the sex change, one is saying that gender does define who they are.

    Now, I do recognized that you have defined gender and sex as two different things and that’s fine. I’m even willing to accept the definitions which you have presented. However, you can only separate gender and sex so far apart. If gender and sex can be totally separated, than again, sex changes would be a completely self defeating argument. The very fact that people have them is proof that gender and sex (not the act, the physical appearance) go hand in hand.

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  2. I also do not agree with Bruce Jenner’s “I am a woman.” I do not say that about me, nor is it true. As I believe my brain was adversely affected in the womb, I likely have formations which resemble a female’s, though my body DNA is perfectly male. So, I say, “I feel female,” which is an important difference from what Jenner says.

    True, some do regret their decisions to transition. Some detransition – even after decades of having lived content and successful lives. Some commit suicide. Some go back and forth. “Queer” and “fluid” are gaining popularity. From my study, the vast majority are happy with their transition. The process is purposely slow and methodical to ensure success.

    One can’t trust the media to delve into negatives on anything LGBT. One has to scour the Internet. One blog, Third Way Trans, written by a man who had fully transitioned to female as a young person and has since gone back to living as a male, does an excellent job of writing about a wide variety of issues.

    I am not a fan of “gender is a social construct.” I find that statement to be a construct of our culture! Many also say “gender is not binary.” Of course, those are not traditional Christians, so they do not buy into “God made them male and female.”

    That was good stuff from you, Brad. Thank you!

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