As a nation, we have started on a continuum to becoming more accepting of different lifestyles. Differing sexual orientations and those who are struggling with their identity have been most prominent in mainstream media.
Though acceptance is at a high point, there are still many obstacles for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, or “LGBT” community, to overcome. Bruce Jenner, stepfather of Kim, Kourtney and Khloe Kardashian and ex-husband of Kris Jenner, has been appearing frequently in the news and tabloids this month.
Jenner is said to be transitioning from being a male to becoming a female. There have been talks of this for quite some time, but Jenner has yet to officially come forward regarding these rumors. There are plans set in place for Jenner to speak openly about his transition in an interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer, which is set to air in May, according to CBS News.
Jenner is an Olympic gold medalist and television personality starring in the popular reality series “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.” Jenner is constantly in the public eye and now with these buzzing rumors of this male to female transition, he has the power to transform the lives of those struggling to accept themselves as well as others to accept them.
There are a plethora of television shows involving gay relationships, as well as transgender characters and actors. The television sitcom “Will and Grace” brought the gay lifestyle into public light in the late ‘90s and early 2000s, which gave insight into an otherwise hushed subject. In 2015, we have shows such as Amazon Prime’s “Transparent” and Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black,” which both feature either transgender characters or actors.
Jennifer Finney Boylan, a transgender author and bestseller, told USA Today “The more examples we see of transgender people living their lives openly and without shame, the better.”
Public figures and celebrities who choose to come out to the public can inspire those struggling to transition or come out. When people see celebrities going through similar tribulations, there’s a sense of humanity and relatability.
Jenner has the opportunity to tell his story in a way most transgender individuals cannot, through media. By making transgender lifestyles prominent in media, tolerance and understanding have the potential to become apparent to those who may not completely understand or accept the lifestyle.
Not only can Jenner advocate for trans and LGBT rights, but he can put his fortune into play as well. Jenner could donate money to struggling LGBT centers, as well as homeless shelters for youth that have been ostracized from their families due to their gay or transgender identity.
According to The New York Times, current transgender advocates have declined numerous interviews because they feel it is wrong to make any assumptions regarding Jenner’s lifestyle, but that “his prominence has provided momentum for a continuing national discussion on the topic.”
Given time, Jenner could become the new face of the transgender community, helping to spread tolerance as well as awareness. Jenner should not take this opportunity to educate lightly, and should encourage others to accept themselves for who they are and show that even the most publicly recognized individuals have secrets as well.