Bruce Jenner Comes Out As Transgender

by lizzfowler on April 27, 2015 - 9:12pm

(For this article, I will use 'they' and 'them' pronouns to refer to Bruce Jenner because they have not confirmed which pronouns they prefer)


This past Friday, Bruce Jenner was interviewed by ABC's Diane Sawyer and after months of speculation confirmed the rumours: they are a transgender woman. The news has all of North America and maybe even the world talking. What has shocked surprised me the most is that most of the feedback I have heard has been positive. Perhaps the world is taking an example from the Kardashian and Jenner families, who are overwhelmingly supportive of Bruce in their time of need. The bravery that it must have taken Bruce Jenner to come out as transgender with the world watching (with the knowledge that a huge amount of the audience holds onto very transphobic views) blows me away and I can do nothing but admire them. However, it should not be an act of bravery for someone to live their life that way that they want.

At the White House Correspondent’s Dinner, Laverne Cox said to Janet Mock that she believed that people tuned in to see a spectacle, but instead they saw a "profoundly nuanced, complicated, beautiful human being". Janet Mock said that she believes that Bruce Jenner coming out as transgender with the fame that they have has created an "Ellen moment" (similar to how Ellen DeGeneres became an icon to the gay community, Bruce Jenner has become an icon to the trans community). Although there are transgender people represented in the media, they are often represented in unsavory ways, and if they aren't then they are normally transgender people who appear to be either extremely "passing" (being perceived as one's desired gender) or not "passing" at all. There are very few accurate representations of trans people in the media, and there is a constant fixation on biology that dehumanizes them. With Bruce Jenner coming out as transgender openly before they are perceived as a passing woman, and after they have been seen as the poster child for masculinity for so many years, it is very grounding to see this more accurate portrayal of what it means to be trans. In doing this interview with Diane Sawyer, Bruce Jenner has become an example of what transgender is for those who did not or do not understand what it is. This enlightenment and learning period is what they trans community needs to be more visible. As a whole, in representing more trans people in the way that Bruce Jenner has been portrayed, as a real person with feeling and a family instead of as sexualized objects, the public can create this normalization of trans people that happened and is still happening for gay and queer people. Through new power and im showing collective support for trans people, we allow them to be able to live their lives freely the way that they choose, which is something that every human being is entitled to.



I agree with your stance that every human being has a right to live their life with the freedom to choose. I think this topic is relevant to open up a discussion about transgender people, and break the stigma that exists towards the marginalized group. From a teleological perspective, Jenner’s action to come forward as a transgender moves towards reaching the sunnum bonum, or the end goal, of achieving an equal society. Humans are always looking for ways to categorize and label other people. Individuals who do not fit into a socially constructed box are treated as outcasts, like transgender people are often viewed as “abnormal” and “weird.” Whether you like the Kardashians or not, their media power is undeniable. Thus, the attention Jenner is receiving from the public will spread people’s awareness of the transgender community, and hopefully, spread acceptance along the way. Of course, this change in the perception of the transgender community from outcasts to “normal” people won’t happen overnight. However, Jenner is making a statement for all socially ostracized people that expressing your true self to the world is the first step towards achieving an equal and accepting community.

The way in which society and the media are responding to Bruce Jenner’s openness about his gender identity seems to heed to the warning of famous philosopher George Santayana, who claimed that “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” With a substantial history of movements fighting for equal rights by marginalised groups, – the black community being an important and prevalent example – North Americans seems to be steering away from the narrow-minded and discriminatory world views of the past.

Utilitarianism – an ethical framework whereby righteousness is attributed to what produces the greatest good for the greatest number – must be adopted when deciding how society is to coexist with the LGBT community. By marginalising communities that cause no harm to society other than contradicting the social norms of others, a divisive and contemptuous social climate is cultivated. Society should strive to maximize the wellbeing of all of its members, and if doing the same for members of the LGBT community causes no harm to society, but only extends that wellbeing to more, then the greatest good for the greatest number is indeed being attained.

The popularity and publicity Bruce Jenner’s story is receiving stimulates conversation about the nature of gender identity and combats stereotypes that serve to harm and discriminate against certain members of society.

Bruce Jenner’s transition has been the talk of the entertainment media, but it also sheds light on a more serious and important matter of acceptance. I agree that Jenner’s fame allows him to address to a larger audience which is important to further a discussion that is often misrepresented in the media. Everyone should feel accepted for who they are and should be able to live their live without the fear of being discriminated. The response from the nation has been rather positive and supportive. To better understand, we can view the situation from a rationalism point of view. There is a set of rules called universal maxims (rules) that each individual must follow. These rules are determined through the usage of reason. With the help of reason, everyone will eventually come to the same conclusion if they think long enough. In other words, the world is becoming more accepting and diverse as time advances because acceptance is a universal truth. Jenner’s transition does not only promote the trans community, but has shown that how people generalize you does not define who you are. It is important to acknowledge that exhibiting a certain behavior does not make you fall into a category created by society.

You brought up an interesting topic that is both a relevant and popular story and raises important points about the transgender community. However, there is definitely an ethical issue at play with this particular story: when does someone's private life need to become public and who has the right to decide that? For months, Jenner's life was being ridiculed and made into a public spectacle as rumours about his sexuality ran rampant. The lack of respect accorded to him* and his family was enormous and intrusive. Who gave all these media outlets the right to invade and exploit his private life and his personal struggle with gender identification? In your article, you seem to be defending the utilitarian maxim that aims for the greatest good for the greatest number of people. By arguing that the outing of his personal story is helping many people in the transgender/queer community, you demonstrate that the good brought to hundreds of people thanks to Jenner's story outweighs the harm that Bruce Jenner, a single person, might have come to during this media circus. I agree with the idea that if someone's private story will help a lot of other people, they should share it, especially since in this case, Jenner's story is encouraging to people who are transgendered and also humanizes transgendered people to the rest of the population, which is great. However, I am strictly opposed to the way media outlets hounded him for months. In future delicate situations such as this one, the media should acknowledge the utilitarian view of "greatest good for greatest number," as you have, but they should definitely not forget to look at their stories through a deontological framework. The latter would be quick to remind them that there are universal maxims in place that should not be abused, and the right to privacy is surely amongst them (Cornell Law).

Cornell Law:

*I appreciate the fact that you call him 'they,' but since he did say that for now he prefers 'he,' even though that might change later on (The Guardian), I figured I can just use that pronoun with no disrespect intended.

Bruce Jenner’s transition into a woman has been a major story in the entertainment media. Although it has caused a lot controversy, it has also shed light onto bigger and more important matters. Firstly, the false stereotypes of transgenders and secondly societies views and feelings towards transgenders. Although the Kardashian/ Jenner family is not often viewed as a family people should look up to, Bruce’s story has inspired millions around the world and has opened up people’s eyes on the matter of transgenders. I agree with your statement that people turned into Bruce’s interview to see a spectacle, but instead saw a "profoundly nuanced, complicated, beautiful human being", because I was one of those people. I think that Bruce’s interview was necessary and important and that this time his fame was used in a positive way. Not only are transgenders misinterpreted in the media, but also so are many types of people. I agree that his interview showed a perfect portrayal of what a transgender is to those who really didn’t understand it. It is very common for people to feel uncomfortable with the idea of transgender because they don’t really understand it. However, his interview changed those false stereotypes seen on television for many people, including myself. I agree that the media has to make a change in the way they represent transgenders. Just like Bruce, every transgender has family, feelings and has the right to decide how they want to live their lives. Hopefully Bruce’s interview will inspire people to not be ashamed of who they are and to live freely like every person deserves to.

In 1976 nobody would of expected the man who was called the greatest athlete in the world had a secret that was so unpredictable considering he was also seen as one of the manliest men. Bruce Jenner has been constantly followed by the media and as he's seen getting his adams apple removed, growing his hair and wearing nail polish many speculations arise that he was transgendering into a women. On April 26, 2015 Bruce Jenner, who referred to himself as her, sat down with Diane Sawyer to finally share his secret that he has been dealing with his whole life, that he is a transgender. Bruce told us about his struggle as a kid when he had to put on dresses in private or as he got older cover his face and walk around in women's clothing. Bruce explained how it is tiring to hide who you really are. Bruce also explained the magnitude of people who go through this and how children everywhere are committing suicide because they can't be who they are or they are not accepted as they are. Although this issue is more relevant in high school, Bruce admitted to contemplating suicide at one point. I think this issue is way bigger and important then it seems because the magnitude of people who go through this is unimaginable. I think that such an inspiration figure like Bruce Jenner to come out is going to be helpful and create acceptance for all the others who come out as transgenders. I agree that how slowly more people are becoming more accepting of gay people and in time more people will be accepting of transgenders. This interview will definitely help people understand the idea of a transgender and Bruce has made it more accepting to other people. For Bruce to be honest was definitely inspiring to the world but I agree with this phrase from the article above that "it should not be an act of bravery for someone to live their life the way that they want." Bruce has made it clear that he was born this way and it was not a choice. In fact, he is envious of those who can be content with their gender. Being who you want to be or deciding how you want to live should not be an act of bravery but it should be a normal decision.