I remember the first time I was asked to state my personal gender pronouns. Sitting in a forum at “Engaged and Empowered: the Lieutenant Governor’s Conference on LGBT Youth” at UW-Oshkosh in March 2010, I had to ask for clarification what “PGPs” are. At that time, I was an ignorant, 16-year-old queer teenager who had never been asked to state his gender.
Gender identity is a hard concept to understand if you’re steadfast in the static idea that a person is either male or female. The idea of being transgender is something even my educated, very accepting mother is still learning to understand.
Think of the colors we assign to babies and how, even before birth, we designate certain gifts or outfits for only boys or girls. It’s time to start accepting that we might need to actually talk with our children and see which color they prefer.
Bruce Jenner’s harrowing, insightful interview with Diane Sawyer Friday about Jenner’s gender identity was, in my opinion, one of the most eloquent, well-produced reports on someone’s transition. This is a shift in recent televised interviews with two amazing trans* women. Janet Mock politely, and forcefully, redirected Piers Morgan’s transphobic, rude comments about her transition, and Laverne Cox skillfully pushed back against Katie Couric’s invasive questions about gender confirmation surgery. The Jenner-Sawyer interview, while it may have had some iffy questions, was handled well.
But, of course with the good comes the bad, and Wendy Williams decided to sound off Thursday in anticipation of Jenner’s interview. Calling Jenner, “Belinda,” Williams felt “duped” that Jenner identified as a man for so many years, even going so far as to say that he should’ve refrained from having children. Perez Hilton decided to chime in Friday night, calling out Jenner’s ex-wife Kris Jenner for not making a statement about the interview, to which Kris responded, “Fuck you, Perez.”
Williams has since apologized for her comments, and the outpouring of support for Jenner washed over Twitter over the weekend. It’s a slight glimmer in the realities of trans* men and women across the country, who face a higher suicide rate than LGB-identifying individuals, as well as increased rates of homelessness.
Jenner’s strength of character is an inspiration, and brings further visibility to their marginalized community at a time when public opinion is slowly, finally, starting to support LGBTQ communities.
Do you disagree with something I said, or would like to change my mind? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Correction: The previous headline described transgender individuals as "trans* genders." This has been changed to reflect the proper nomenclature for trans* individuals. The Daily Cardinal regrets this error.