Tabloid frenzy engulfs Bruce Jenner

  • by Cass A. Leung
  • Wednesday February 11, 2015
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One of the hot button celebrity stories these days appears to be the alleged transition of one Bruce Jenner, former famous Olympic athlete-turned celebrity stepdad-turned tabloid darling.

Whether it's coverage on TV, online news sites, mainstream news outlets, or friends' posts on social networking sites, it seems that everybody has an opinion on this, and it seems that everyone thinks they know what's going on. And frankly, that's what I have a big problem with.

Now, right off the bat I'll be the first to admit that I barely follow this story. I know who Jenner is because I've always been a sports fan so I recognize Jenner as a decorated former athlete. I also know of Jenner through their association with the Kardashian clan because, well, I watch TV. Admittedly, that's where the bulk of my knowledge of Jenner originates. Everything else is basically hearsay. And it is for that reason that even though I support any transgender, transsexual, genderqueer, intersex, and gender-questioning person's right (and unfortunately, often, fight) to be who they are, that I currently refuse to put a label on who Jenner is, how Jenner identifies, or even the journey that Jenner may or may not be embarking on.

As far as sexual orientation and gender stuff goes, I personally have come out three times in my life: when I was 16 I came out as being gay. When I was 21 I came out first as being trans, and then as being kinky.

I was fortunate that at every step of my coming out I found supportive people who readily accepted me and the road I felt I needed to take to figure out who I am. At the same time, I also encountered folks who were quick to assign labels to orientations and identities I was still just getting to know and accept, as well as to offer advice and opinions I don't think I ever asked for. At some point, it felt like my decision to attempt to live authentically and to seek support for that decision was no longer mine, but instead up for grabs to whoever felt they knew better. As someone who has at quite a few points in my life felt control of my life was being taken away from me, this somehow felt familiar.

Reading the coverage of this Jenner thing, it seemed like pro or con, many people have already decided that they know who Jenner really is; they know the steps Jenner is taking; and they know what Jenner should do. But unless Jenner actually said something about this recently and I missed it, what I see is that no one really does know, and that everyone is just offering their unsolicited opinions.

I don't have any inside information about anything, and I don't know how Jenner identifies. But I do remember the countless times in my road of self discovery when people have told me how I needed to look, how I needed to dress, and even how I needed to walk and talk in order to be taken seriously as the identity I wasn't even sure was right for me. It seems to me that a lot of this stripping away of control of one's autonomy may be happening to Jenner, and if that's the case, everyone: STOP IT!

Figuring out who one is is hard. Once that's been achieved, figuring out how one wants to express that can be even harder. I believe this is true whether one is famous or not because often when making that decision one has to weigh expressing one's truth versus enduring the outside world and how cruel, cold, and opinionated it can often be.

I'm lucky that throughout my coming out quest I not only had people around me who were supportive and who showed me unconditional love, I also had people who constantly reminded me regardless of who I am and how I choose to represent that, when and how I choose to reveal and explore that is up to me and that no one else knows better than I do.

I sincerely hope and pray that Jenner has someone telling this to them.


Cass A. Leung lives in San Francisco.