I am one of the millions of people who watched Bruce Jenner's interview with Diane Sawyer a couple nights ago. Thank you Hulu. For those of you not familiar with the interview, Bruce Jenner has decided to go forward with his life as a woman. This is a man who accomplished the most manly thing you could ever accomplish, a gold medal in the decathlon. And all this time he was struggling with the feeling that he was stuck in the wrong body. I can totally see how he would harness his energy, anger and emotion into developing into the greatest athlete in the world, but after years of hiding he feels as though he needs to make a change. In the interview a statistic was stated that only 8% of people in the US know or have an experience with a person who identified as a transgender person.
I am part of that 8%.
My experience took place 4 years ago in Utah in a work environment. I worked with a super cool guy who liked Les Miserables, good movies, good food and it was a super fun place to work. We really talked about anything and everything. One day he confided in me that even though he had a family and an active member of the church, he felt like he was born into the wrong body. He told me that his first memory of dressing like a girl was at the age of 6. He confided in me his "name", a name that he had thoughtfully picked out and that had specific meaning to his life, and came into work dressed head to toe like a female. it was a very interesting experience for me. I'm not going to lie, I probably stared a little harder than I should have but I really felt like it helped me grow and understand the difficultly that people who struggle with hiding who they really truly want to be are constantly battling. It shocked me at first. I wasn't sure how I would react, but I was okay. His choice didn't affect me and it was the least that I could do to be there for him to talk to and to not judge him. He was already feeling insecure and scared, he did not need judgement and hostility at that time.
I am generally pretty conservative. I am Mormon. But I am also open minded and not so confused and closed minded to think that the choices and lifestyles of others around me should have an effect on my life. I can be friends with people, I can love people and I can be there for people who choose to live differently in their lives than the way I choose. It doesn't make me a bad person to understand those around me and to still be their friends even though they are choosing to live a lifestyle that I would never choose to live, the way they choose to live is their choice. I try hard not to judge others, and I am not perfect, but it confuses me as to why people judge me for not judging. Life isn't an easy thing and we should all try to help others and make it as easy as we can for others.
As I watched the interview with Bruce Jenner I could honestly see that this wasn't the easiest decision for him to make and that he tried his best to live the life he thought he was suppose to live. He is a good person. He is a brave person. It came down to the fact that he just couldn't hide it any longer. He lived 65 years in a body that he felt strange and odd in, and enough is enough for him. I think he is incredibly lucky to have such a supportive family. Watching his children talk about him and how much they love him and how for them, this announcement brought everything together and everything made sense, made me happy for him that he has that kind of support.
No one should have to live a life they are unhappy in. People lose weight to like themselves. People cut their hair, change their clothes and relocate to like themselves. We need to be more open minded and loving towards others around us. We don't have to pretend to understand it or to live it ourselves, but we can support those around us and be there for them especially when they feel as though there is no one to be there for them.
I'm grateful for the opportunities that I have had in my life to meet the people I have. I feel blessed to be educated and to have the understanding that I do about agency. We all get the opportunity to make our own choices and do what we want to in life and that's a huge blessing! The sooner we understand that how others around us choose to live their lives does not directly affect our own lives, the happier and more understanding we will all be. It is what it is. May we all be happy in the lives we choose to live.