No, I have not seen the Bruce Jenner interview. Yes, I have every intention of watching it…just not sure when. No, I don’t have a reason for avoiding, er, not tuning in. Yes, I realize those are two hours of television I should most definitely have watched by now.
Okay, so in the three plus years since Jess has transitioned the public awareness of transgenderism (I think I made up that word) has exploded. Way back in 2012 it was way weirder, way less common and certainly way less publicized than it is now. Admittedly I am more tuned in, but I am quite certain that there was not a seemingly daily story on the subject like there is now. My kind and well intentioned friends send me links to stories on television, the radio, online, in print and overheard at the local CVS nearly every day. Many I have seen by the time they are forwarded to me, others I have not. Some I read, some I do not. Each time I skip reading the story I feel a pang of guilt; I should be well-versed on and interested in everything good, bad, thrilling, infuriating, scary, despicable and ground-breaking that happens in the transgender community, right? I should be a loud and proud voice for my child, right? I should know the what, where, why and how of the LGBT community so I can educate, explain and improve the world view, right? Only here’s the rub: sometimes I just want to be a regular mom with a regular kid with regular issues. Sometimes I literally cannot bear the thought of hearing one more tale of transition or acceptance or rejection or triumph or catastrophe…so I do things like avoid, er, not find the time, to watch the Bruce Jenner interview.
To be clear: I am all for educating, explaining, protecting, supporting, and normalizing the transgender experience. I applaud Bruce Jenner and Laverne Cox and Brad & Angelina and Cameron and Aiden and Connie and Rogina and Jill Soloway and Diane Sawyer and Jazz and Mimi Lemay and every other man, woman and child who puts themselves out there. In fact, I have been one of those people. With each new story I already know what the comments will be…they never change:
“A child is too young to make this decision. If they said they wanted to be a pony would you let them?”
“G-d doesn’t make mistakes.”
“These are the most wonderful parents ever!”
“These are the worst parents ever!”
“Crazy mother didn’t get the girl she wanted, so she’s doing this! For shame!”
“I wish I had had parents like this…it would have saved me years of pain.”
This cycle is, as I am sure you can appreciate, exhausting. What’s more: at this point in the game, I sometimes forget that Jess was George. I see her as my very cool, very complicated, very interesting, very unusual, very artistic, very independent thinking kid. I think of her as my kid and not as my transgender kid. I don’t bring it up in conversation, nor do I hide it. It is what it is. Maybe your kid has issues with anxiety or anger or learning or obesity or is so obnoxious that it is legendary…and you don’t need or, frankly, want every article, story and debate over your given malady because you are living it. Yep. It is the same thing here.
I know that each and every person who has ever sent me a text about or a link to an article or story is doing so with kind, loving and supportive intentions. I really do. I know that the media has latched onto the transgender story and that it is doing wonderful things for the community. I really do.
From everything I have heard, seen and read since his interview it is clear that Bruce Jenner did a wonderful thing for himself, his family and the world by sharing his story. I am grateful for that. I hope it throws some tar down on the newly paved road for kids like mine. I also hope it takes a little bit of pressure off of us parents who, despite enormous support and love, often feel like we are flying solo. By not watching, and not weighing in with an opinion, I feel a sense of relief that someone else can talk the talk and walk the walk for me, if just for a few days.