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Like many others, roughly 17 million to be exact, you sat glued to your TV watching Bruce Jenner’s interview with Diane Sawyer Friday night. Within the first few minutes you knew it was going to be a doozy. Here was one of the greatest athletes in the world, you grew up with this guy, saying, “I am a woman.”

Drop the phone! And even though recent pics of him all but spell, ‘I’m a woman hear me roar!’ It was still fascinating to hear him confirm. Did you mention that he was once the greatest athlete in the world?

But somehow, watching his story unfold, this story of a 65-year-old man who had been living a lie his entire life, it became clear that this interview was about so much more than gender. What exactly? Well, first a recap of highlights:

  • Bruce began dressing in women’s clothes as a boy when he would sneak inside his sister’s closet.
  • While on the road doing motivational speaking, he’d go back to his hotel room, change into women’s clothes, and head out.
  • All his wives knew at one point and tried to deal with it, including third wife Kris.
  • He started taking hormones to do his transition into a woman 30 years ago but got cold feet.
  • Kim Kardashian once caught him dressed as a woman as did his daughters Kylie and Kendall.
  • He’s not gay. “As far as I know, I’m attracted to women.”
  • It was Kanye West who helped Kim understand Bruce’s struggle.
  • He contemplated suicide.
  • He can’t wait to wear nail polish long enough for it to chip.
  • His whole family- all six kids from his previous marriages, mom and sister, the Kardashian clan, except for Rob who was never referred to during the interview and Kris Jenner who at the time the show aired had no comment but has since tweeted her support- is behind him.

Really, the interview was a home run. Jodie Patterson, mother to a six-year-old trans boy said, “It was by far the best interview of the year, going beyond the “dumbed down” take on transgender. It allowed people to grasp the complexity and soul of the issue. As a trans-parent, I am so proud to be part of the LGBTQI community.” But obviously it didn’t resonate with everyone. Some feel it didn’t present anything new and if not for the fact that it was Bruce Jenner, cool by association with the Kardashians, it would have never gained so much attention. Perhaps true, but for those pretty clueless about the trans community it was like shining a light into the corner of a dark room. Like who knew that a man can identify as a woman and still be sexually attracted to women? Apparently, gender identity and sexual attraction are two different things, and when it comes to sexual attraction there are no hard rules. So maybe we should stop trying to figure it out.

One of the real surprises since you’ve been talking to friends about the interview is how many of them already know about the trans world, and support it. One friend shared that her former roommate, a girl you’ve met on several occasions, is transgender. Honestly, the girl is a bit odd, but formerly a man you’d never have guessed. Another friend identified with Bruce’s struggle, “aren’t we all struggling with something?” and hopes that his story will help do some good for transgender teens. According to statistics, 50 percent of transgender youth will have at least one suicide attempt by their 20th birthday.

The struggle is so real.

And while the interview did so much to improve your understanding of gender identity you walked away with so much more. The real icing on the cake was Bruce Jenner’s courage and determination to live the life that he wants to live. Isn’t that what we all want as human beings? To see this man share himself so completely, with all the awkward moments, was inspiring on a level that few of us get to see. Bruce was transparent, and as a result he set himself free. How many of us can say that?

A song that’s been playing in your head since the interview aired is Bob Marley’s Zimbabwe. It seems to say it all.

“Every man has a right to decide his own destiny.”

Erickka Sy Savané is a freelance writer and creator of THE BREW, a social commentary blog. Before that she was a model/actress/MTV VJ. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

 

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