Friday, November 14, 2014

Transitioning

Transitioning is a process in which a person born one gender changes to the opposite sex.  Not all transsexuals make the transition and those who do handle it in different ways.  Sometimes people have surgery; sometimes they do not.  What marks the change is the individual's public presentation which announces to the world how they want to be identified.

Transitioning is not easy and is rarely pretty.  If a person transitions in adulthood, their body has already gone through major physical developments that are largely irreversible.  That means changing their gender-appearance is cosmetic and often unconvincing.  A term used for this is "passing" -- being able to pass in society as your chosen gender without detection.  Most transsexuals cannot pass and, for them, this dooms the process.  Nobody wants to be viewed as a freak.

It appears that a male celebrity known for his association with a family of hyper-popular women is about to transition.  In fact, it's manifest he has already started by having various well-known surgeries used in male-to-female transitions.

The celebrity is Bruce Jenner.  I recognize Bruce from my childhood.  In 1976, when I was starting college, Bruce won a gold medal at the Olympics in Montreal.  His sport was the decathlon.  Bruce was hugely celebrated for the win and, of course, was pictured on a Wheaties cereal box.  Wikipedia says he was a "national hero" and that rings true to my recollection.  Bruce had his picture taken with President Ford.



After Bruce's achievement at the Olympics, I stopped hearing about him.  A decade ago, Bruce became famous again when he married Kris Jenner and become a stepfather to the Kardashian girls (Kourtney, Kim and Khloe).  (He also has six children of his own.)  In 2007, the reality television show, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, became a hit and put the spotlight back on Bruce.

I've never seen the show so I can't talk about Bruce's involvement.  I noticed, however, that he separated from Kris two years ago and filed for divorce in September.  Recently, he appears to be starting the transition to female identity.  He denies he's doing it, but the signs are there.  Tabloids are printing photos that show dramatic changes in his physical appearance.

Bruce's popularity will undoubtedly bring major attention to the subject of transitioning and being transgender.  I hope that attention is educational and not tawdry.

Do you know who Bruce Jenner is?  Do you have any questions about this subject?

26 comments:

  1. I do know who Bruce Jenner is ... I have only watched little bits of the show as I think they are all about the limelight!

    have a friend whose partner's daughter is starting with the transitioning process at 14 and unfortunately does not have everyone's support ~ She is very fortunate to have my friend as her "step-mom" as she supports her/him 100%. They also have support from a father whose daughter is already far in the process of transitioning.

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  2. I've missed your blog! I'm glad to be here again. :)

    I've been vaguely keeping up with this story in the news. I've never seen the Kardashian show, but it's hard not to know who this guy is when his family is talked about 24/7.

    I agree, he definitely seems to be transitioning, despite his protest. It seems to be an extremely difficult decision to make as a regular person, so I can't even imagine what he's going through as a public figure. And let's face it, he's not just any public figure. He's Kim Kardashian's ex-stepfather. So he has quadruple the celebrity magnitude.

    I hope he's not only able to have a smooth (or as smooth as one can have in his shoes) transition, but also be able to openly discuss it one day. He could use his fame to his advantage, by writing a book about his journey. I'm sure it would help others facing the same challenge. It might even inspire or encourage younger people in the same shoes.

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  3. I've not watched the Kardashians as their rise to fame came after I got rid of my tv I think. I hope it goes well for him! X

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  4. I didn't know Bruce had such an interesting history. Good on him for getting on with his own life. It's a shame the Kardashian fame will forever cast its shadow on him, making him a target when he's going through such a personal experience. xo

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  5. I didn't know he was transitioning. I just thought he started to look strange. We don't watch TV in the traditional sense so I've never seen that show but of course that family is impossible to avoid. Especially since Kim tried to break the internet this week.

    I can only imagine how difficult it must be for him. He is a good looking guy and that hopefully will make it easier for him to "pass".

    bisous
    Suzanne

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  6. Great informational post. I know of him but not too much information other than what I see in the grocery store check out line. No tv or internet leaves me in the dark a lot! Hahaha!

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  7. He's been in the news lately but I've never really watched the show. I remember reading a very interesting article in Runner's World once about a man who transitioned. When I was a Pilates I once had a gentleman call me to see if I could teach him to walk like a woman. I thought this was extremely exciting and was disappointed that he didn't follow through (I'm sure he had many reasons). I find this subject very fascinating so I thank you for writing about it. The whole process must be extremely difficult and somehow I wish the topic wasn't so "hidden".
    xo
    styleontheside.com

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    1. There are coaches who teach men how walk, move and talk like a woman. You might not be aware how different those actions are as gender-markers. They are subtle but distinctive and are usually learned early in childhood.

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  8. I wish Jenner all the best and I hope she doesn't become the instant spokesperson for all things trans.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Lana. And I agree. The media often foolishly anoints people as representatives when they aren't equipped for that role.

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  9. I hadn't heard that he was transitioning but I'm weary to make that assumption without his announcement of it. In any case, he had a nice face. It's too bad he mucked it up with plastic surgery. I wish people would just accept that they will age and embrace it.

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  10. Wow this is so interesting. I only knew about his association to the kardashians. I didn't know he was an olympic medalist. there is so much more to him.

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  11. don´t know him - but if it is like you say i wish him all the best on his way! living for 22 years in berlin as an artist in a subculture environment i made acquaintance with more then one woman and man who was in a gender transition or was arrived in their real gender. as you say, to pass in society as your chosen gender without detection is often hard, which seems to be the reason why the usually tolerant artist/subcultural circel have an attraction. society still has to go a long way........
    xx

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  12. I do know of him - his name still appeared often on sports cards, in books and magazines about sports, and in popular culture in general when I was child in the 80s/90s, but I can't say as though I've heard much about him at all in 20+ years (like yourself, I've never watched the Kardashians). I hope that if he actually going through this incredibly life (and appearance) changing experience, he will come to a place of personal comfort where he's able to proudly declare to the world who is and what he's doing. It's not everyday that celebrities (past or present) transition between genders and I think that if he is doing so, he such an important podium (so to speak) from which to inform, educate and help spread positive awareness to others about the trans community.

    ♥ Jessica

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  13. have you ever thought about transitioning? like once you retire perhaps?

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    1. Yes. Yes. Yes. But it hasn't been a realistic possibility for me, up to now. I can't predict the future and will take it one step at a time.

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  14. I, too, remember Bruce Jenner from my childhood. I've been wondering what you think of his recent, er, actions, shall we say. You know, you would have lots of support should you ever decide to transition, at least from all of us who read your blog. *hugs*

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    1. Thanks, Patricia. Unfortunately my life in the real world presents many more complications and obstacles. I wish it had only the good will of my online friends.

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  15. Oh, yes ... I remember him well. His handsome mug was everywhere. Interesting to hear from someone with expertise that the speculation in the press is likely.
    It's really too bad that transitioning is only seen as successful when the ability to pass is the criterion. Women come in so many shapes, sizes, ages ... and we are so hard on women with a such a limited idea of what is beautiful.
    I wish him the best in a difficult situation. He might be tough enough since he has lived in a fishbowl for much of his adult life. I imagine the process is not for wimps in any case!
    Interesting and informative, Ally. Thank you.

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  16. i know who he is, and i'm also guilty of watching the show. i did hear that he was transitioning a while back, but haven't seen any recent photos. i hope his family (the girls) are as supportive of him as he was of them all these years. i can imagine how difficult this will be..

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  17. Wow-- I never thought of Bruce Jenner's plastic surgery procedures as a precursor to him transitioning, but now that I look at it, it makes sense.

    What did you think about Michael Jackson's procedures? Some say he intentionally wanted to look like Diana Ross.

    XxMO
    madame-ostrich.com

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    1. I'm not a fan of any cosmetic surgery. In addition to its risks, people are usually trying to solve social or psychological problems with it. They should instead change their or society's outlook, not mess around with their body. Placing blame for our problems on our bodies isn't healthy -- and modifying our bodies rarely solves those problems. MJ's procedures were grotesque and a sign of mental instability.

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  18. I remember him from winning the decathlon, and on the Wheaties boxes (and wasn't he on an episode of "The Love Boat"? Anyway, I only know what I've seen on the covers of the rags in the checkout line, but I hope he is doing for himself what he needs to do to reflect on the outside who he is on the inside. Life is too short to not strive for that!

    Sorry for being absent so long, Ally. Damned life has been getting in the way!

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    1. No problem, Sheila. I know how busy you are.

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  19. I got to "know" Bruce Jenner when he was on the K show.
    I remember him being bugged about having face surgery.
    My perception was that he was too good to be around the Ks. He seemed like a really nice person and a good father.

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