We are born. We die. And in between, with the years we are given, we try.
We try to learn. We try to explore. We try to work, to play, to figure out just what our purpose may be.
For the majority of people, they enter this world wearing the proper skin. The "size" fits the being inside. Not too big, not too small, just right. The features reflect the feeling inside. The soul rests comfortably within the fleshy cocoon the world sees. They get on with the business of living, not giving a thought to the peace that comes so easily, the contentment they are not even aware they enjoy.
But for some, the business of living is overshadowed from a very early age. Their "skin" is ill fitting; it chafes against their soul. How did this happen? Why does my skin feel loose? Tight? Wrong? Why do I look in the mirror and see an outside that is as mismatched to my inside as are stripes when worn with plaids?
Last night the world got a lesson in this very topic. It was heart wrenching, heartbreaking, eye opening, tear inducing.
Bruce Jenner, who my generation knew first as an Olympic god, the stuff of Wheaties execs wet dream$, took a leap of faith and allowed the world to hear his story.
Bruce Jenner is transgender.
For many, many months tabloids have done what they do - mock, conjecture, and demean - stalking him as his appearance began to change. Desperate to get the scoop, snap the picture of even a fingernail polish sighting, he was been hounded relentlessly. Whispers of transitioning gave way to headlines shouting the salacious, ignoring the human being.
It has been shameful, but then that is what this society has turned in to. A cabal of slobbering misfits who believe they have a right to know, right now, everything.
Now, had it not been for his turn on the televised bag of air known as Keeping Up With The Kardashians, Bruce could have moved forward with his transition quietly, kept it a family confidence as much as possible. But part of the deal with the Kardashian fame devil is that his once quiet withdrawal to civilian life as an aging post Olympian, placed him back in the spotlights.
And while Mother Kris, Kim K, and her siblings may draw their very life force from being constantly spoken about, Tweeted on, and photographed, Bruce never seemed to fit in their fame suck world.
But then, as he told the world last night, truly fitting has been a struggle his entire life.
Yes, like most transgender individuals, Bruce has known from very early on that who he is inside was not matched by the "skin" reflected in the mirror.
Watching his interview with Diane Sawyer, I saw a person - almost caterpillar-like, literally changing into a butterfly before my eyes. With each word that came out, each expression of his feelings, his struggles, his knowing but being suffocated by fear for so very long, I could see what I wish all people could see: A human being. Fragile, frightened, but desperate to finally live his essential truth. To be who he has always known he has been.
That is not "mental illness." It is not "sick" and he is not a "freak" as I have seen so many deride him on comment boards.
Bruce simply exists on the very real spectrum where we all reside. He simply resides at a less occupied spot. The spectrum includes straight, gay, lesbian, trans, bi, pan, non-binary, and so many more labels - if we must use labels.
Being in a majority spot on the spectrum doesn't make you better, more relevant, more deserving of respect, dignity, acceptance. It just means your skin happened to fit you when you were born. How lucky for your accident of birth.
I am completely sickened by those who proudly trumpet their ignorance, foment their hatred, and hide behind their "straight privilege."
Yes, straight privilege. If you happened to be born as a heterosexual, you have zero idea how easily you stride through life. Because you have always been able to easily stride through life.
Falling anywhere else on the spectrum sets you up for a life of fear, suspicion, held breaths, an increased risk of suicide.
It is that last one that is not the fault of the individual, but the fault of a society that needs to grow the fuck up. A society which marginalizes, demeans, bullies, beats, and even kills those who are different.
My stomach turns to think of the children and teens trapped in households where parents care more about biblical brainwashing than true love. Where their every waking moment is the stuff of nightmares. Existing in an atmosphere where they must hide who they are, lie, deflect, and where they slowly die inside, unable to trust the very people they should be able to trust the most.
Then there are the ones who can contain it no more, and take a leap of faith, telling their parents they are gay, bi, trans, pan, et al. So many find themselves homeless, abandoned, kicked out, disowned. Bible verses and slurs thrown in their faces. Condemnation swift, hateful, and hot.
Let that number sink in. 78%.
To those who still want to hide ignorantly behind comments like "it's a choice"? Really? How stupid are you? Would YOU CHOOSE to be something with a suicide attempt rate of 78%?
Outside of school/schoolaged, the suicide attempt rate for trans individuals is over 40%.
To call it unacceptable is an understatement. Being who you are should not be a death sentence. Killing one's self should not be the better option to living with society's backass notions and behaviors.
Look, as a parent, I bought in when they were born. Better, worse, good, bad, however the flowers blossomed, as it were. My love has never been conditioned upon meeting some bullshit societal expectations and prejudices. My list of requirements for my three daughters is simple:
HAPPY and ALIVE.
My job as their parent is to insure their success rate at both objectives. My contribution is unwavering love, security, unquestionable devotion, and the bone deep understanding that I LOVE THE PEOPLE THEY ARE.
Where anyone gets the ass to run down those who are born different than themselves, I have no idea. The balls it takes to tell someone else who they are is staggering. You don't have to understand. That is not required. Wallow in your stupidity, refuse to expand your education about life around you, or continue to hide behind your religion's dictates. That's fine. But what you don't get to do is insert yourself into someone else's life and deny them who they know they are.
That mindset is a certitude born of mob mentality, group think, safety in numbers, and majority rules.
And it doesn't work. It hurts people. For no other reason than that they don't fit into some preconceived mold. And as we see constantly, differences scare the bejeezus out of small minded people.
Bruce Jenner will continue to transition. And I hope he will continue to advocate for those who are not insulated by money and fame. I wish him, as he becomes the her she has always been, peace, love, acceptance, and the ability to finally breathe fully and freely in this life.
Last night was the beginning of a societal conversation. Not just about Bruce, but about every Bruce in this world.
Let's hope that the dialogue continues and as Bruce continues his transition, society finally starts theirs.