Thanks, Bruce

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.

21 thoughts on “Thanks, Bruce

  1. I understand how you feel. Like you, there are times when I would just like to be a mom… just a mom….It is draining at times to read those comments, to not read those comments. I get it. 🙂 And you are never flying solo. If you look off in the distance you will see a tiny object just within sight in front of you, behind you and along side you-it’s all of us flying solo- together. 🙂

  2. A religious friend I have been afraid to talk to about my child being trans asked me if she was Trans Jenner which really broke the ice 🙂

  3. Bruce started the interview by asking that we keep a sense of humor about all of this. I can totally relate to that, because the more we try to analyze the subject, the more confusing it gets – whether you are a transgender person, the parent of one, or anyone off the street.

    I happen to have been singing in a bar while the interview was being shown on one of the TVs in the room. I never noticed anyone looking at the TV, though. I’m hoping it was because people were thinking that there’s no point in listening to someone talk about it when it’s right there – in real life and much more entertaining (hoping, I say, but what else could it be?). Ha! As Elvis sang, “A little less conversation, a little more action, please.”

  4. Once again, you seem to be pulling the thoughts and feelings right out of my head, Julie Levinson! We love and appreciate all of our allies and dear friends who have always supported us, but, as you so eloquently said, sometimes we just need to be a normal family with a normal kid doing normal things. Thanks again…I needed to hear that.

  5. My partner records things on TV about transgender individuals and then asks if I know the person. Really!!!

    It is hard though when you have a child that is not the same as other people’s. Answering “I don’t know how you manage to deal with it, I couldn’t” for the 1000th time gets wearing but also gets you to the point where your answer comes down to “because they are my child and I love them and would do anything I can to see them happy and enjoying life”.

  6. I think at some point, you can step back and allow Jess to be her own advocate/researcher. I think that parents, in general, can become too helicopter-y in being protective, supportive, etc. and it becomes more about them than the child. Jess will let you know what she needs. You’ve been a great voice for transgender so far – honest, humble, etc – feel free to step back, take a rest, do what YOU need. The stronger you are, the better support you’ll be for her in the future.

    • You are so right. My MTF is 18… Just came out and I became obsessed with the “now I gotta build a girl here” attitude. We have 75 days til my MTF goes off to college!!!

  7. I imagine that my mother suffered greatly and expended just as much energy by living in denial of my gender identity. Having a transgender child is just a pain in the ass, no matter which way you go with it. It goes without saying that your way is infinitely better for your child, however (I’m speaking to all of you parents of transgender children here). Bless you for your patience.

  8. Thank you once again for expressing my thoughts completely. It’s so nice to hear other parents going through the process we are. I know we deal with the challenges everyday and sometimes it’s nice just not to have to dwell on it.
    I too have started the Bruce Jenner interview but haven’t finished it. I feel that his transition has to done so pubically.

  9. It’s only been a month since my 18 year old MTF came out and only a handful know but I still need my NON TG ZONE moments.

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