Last week, my tween son, who understands more about the world than I did in 1985 when I was 11, asked me what the "T" meant in LGBT. "Lesbian, gay, bisexual. What's the T?" Transgender was new territory.
After seeing Bruce Jenner's outstanding interview last night with Diane Sawyer, I felt so tightly locked on to some of the things he said that I couldn't shake the feeling of pure truth in his words. I related to that truth in my own life's experience.
I don't see the contradiction in embracing the good Jenner has done, while respectfully asking "What the heck?" on his apparently discordant politics -- not to enforce liberal orthodoxy, but to encourage self-reflection in someone who has a unique public platform.
Trans visibility might be increasing in everyday society but this trend is not translating to the sports world in the same way it has for LGB players. Out-of-date policies have to be combated, dismantled and replaced with policies that respect transgender identities.
Jenner's message reached across the board, and my hopes are that Bruce's interview, his truth, his explanation of who he is today and where he plans to go in the future with "her," has reached people who resonate with his journey. I hope this will push further discussion, acceptance, understanding and most of all, empathy.
From one sentence I realized, it's not for me to understand something I can't naturally relate to, but I must be compassionate. No one owes anyone a detailed breakdown of their personal and private experiences (especially when it can be so hard to put into words). The message is: I don't feel like my true self.
At every LGBTQ training I give, people are the most interested in one thing: trans people. So what is transgender? It's a persistent feeling that your gender does not match the sex you were assigned at birth. Evidence leads us to believe we are about .5 percent of the population, or one in every 200 people.
It's not easy to come out and share your story, but we all have to do it if we are going to change the world. It certainly wasn't easy for Bruce, as we all now know, but he did it...for himself and for all of us. We are all so fortunate to have a hero (and his family) help us all do the same.
Everyone who transitions does so somewhat publicly, though not all of us have cameras focused on our every move. When we speak of Bruce, hopefully we can remember that Bruce is, at heart, a person, and give him the dignity he is due.
There is a pervasive cultural myth that all gays are rich, and that all Asian Americans are overachievers. Individuals who identify as LGBTQ and AAPI are therefore often assumed to be better off. However, these misconceptions all too often mask real struggles and hardships faced by LGBTQ AAPI communities.
If Bruce had told me about his gender issue when we first began getting romantically involved, I would not have married him. Pure and simple. But looking back, I'm so grateful to God, the universe, and Bruce that I didn't know, and that Bruce played the role in my life that he did.
The discussion about whether Bruce Jenner is transitioning has me feeling simultaneously hopeful and deeply uncomfortable. Uncomfortable because, as a daughter of a "transparent," the tabloid tone of ridicule with which the speculation has been presented recalls the cruel words I heard behind my back growing up.
Making use of a public restroom is not often understood as a political act. Yet, a group of transgender folks in the U.S. and Canada are participating in a bit of digital activism by doing just that.
Newsrooms are always looking for stories their audiences will find interesting, and the idea of a celebrity they have known for decades revealing they are transgender is attention-getting. Can it be told without resorting to sensationalism?
How can POC be celebrated, while also being part of the norm? By creating our own events. By owning what for so long we have had to be window shoppers to. Invited for appetizers, but not allowed to stay and enjoy the main course.
It is important for both families and transitioning parents to know that they are not alone, and that communication, empathy, and unconditional love are transformative in helping meet any challenge.