Bruce Jenner May Change the Game

by Jazmine Hughes

Generally, the reporting on Jenner’s gender struggles has been left to the tabloids, which have covered it as you’d expect. Last month, In Touch ran a hatchet job cover that showed Jenner photoshopped as a woman. Just last week, People ran four separate stories on Jenner and the rumors of his ABC News sit-down. It’s been treated as a complete and total joke.

But even if the rumors—which are so widespread at this point that all that’s really left is to put a ring on ’em with Sawyer officiating— turn out to be untrue, Jenner’s gender identity and the strife it has caused him are not, by any means, jokes. If openly gay athletes are rare, openly transgender athletes are pretty much non-existent. For an athlete of this stature to transition would be a remarkable milestone.

Bruce Jenner is secretly my favorite character—and yes, though they are all beautiful and perfect, they are characters—on Keeping Up with the Kardashians, but he’s by far the most relatable: he just wants to go outside and fly his remote control helicopters in peace!!!!!!!! Kris, give him some space in the garage!!!!!

But who cares about me—if the rumors are true, Jenner may soon publicly announce that he is transgender, giving scores of people something they can relate or aspire to. At Deadspin, Leslie Horn details the significance of such an announcement—he may be a goofy, helicopter loving dad now, but for a short time, Bruce Jenner was the most famous athlete in the world. We know that transgender people face a horde of difficulties and injustices every day, but transgender athletes have to abide by additional rules—such as being banned from competitions if one has undergone hormone therapy—atop that; consequently (for that reason and for many others!), there aren’t many openly transgender athletes, let alone openly transgender Olympians. I will preach about representation time and time again, but when you can count the number of people who look like you in contemporary sports on one hand (Horn names four), then it’s time for a change.

If Jenner comes out as transgender, he (and, like Horn, I use “he” because the claims are still unverified and there is no knowledge of preferred pronouns) would prompt a conversation about transgender people within the athletic community, a place that desperately needs it, and that would hopefully result in destigmatization. The Kardashian effect also cannot be understated: if the family treats Bruce’s transition as totally normal (which it IS), then hopefully the 2.56 million people who watch the show, some of whom have never met a transgender person, some of whom may be uncomfortable with the premise, some of whom are just tuning in to see Kim’s outfits, will find it totally normal too.

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