What we hope happens after tonight's Bruce Jenner interview
Update: Bruce Jenner has officially stated he is a woman, but has requested that people continue to use “he” and “him” pronouns to refer to him for the time being. Our article reflects this preference.
Tonight, Bruce Jenner — Olympic Gold medalist and reality TV personality from Keeping Up with the Kardashians — will talk with Diane Sawyer in a highly-anticipated two-hour interview special on ABC’s 20/20. The interview comes after months of speculation, unconfirmed, that Jenner is transgender, and identifies as female — and will allow him to address the rumors on his own terms.
Here are a few things that we hope happen after tonight’s interview.
1. Photographers stop hunting him like some rare animal
The paparazzi are notoriously a pretty ruthless bunch — and some would argue it’s their job to be — but the recent speculation over his gender identity has caused the paparazzi to treat Jenner with a new, unacceptable level of disrespect. He’s been subject to Photoshop (in an attempt to further “feminize” him for a magazine cover), and as recently as this week, the Internet was in a frenzy over photos of Jenner allegedly wearing a dress outside his Malibu home (rumored to be taken and distributed illegally). It’s disappointing that news (or even rumor) of a celebrity straying from the very narrow definition of the gender they were assigned at birth in some way makes them an immediate target for the paparazzi. Jenner’s public silence on the topic has only fueled the tabloids’ fire. Hopefully, whether or not Jenner identifies as transgender, his interview will allow him to be in control of his story, and remove some of the ridiculous scrutiny that he’s been subject to lately. It’s no secret that celebrities, in exchange for their fame, lose some level of privacy — it’s the price of public fascination and adoration. But there are certain privacies that we have no right to invade, and it’s important we remember that all people, famous or not, deserve to be treated with respect, no matter their gender identity.
2. The world has a better understanding of and compassion for the trans experience
Whether or not Jenner is transgender, the interview will likely address the trans experience in some form, and discuss gender in a way not often talked about on network television. By providing a normalized and compassionate perspective on transgender and gender fluid identities, ABC has the opportunity to begin fostering a more understanding and open-minded public. If just one person walks away from the interview questioning their prejudice towards the LGBTQ+ community, it will have done good. Likewise, we shouldn’t treat Jenner’s story as a lesson for us to benefit from — it’s his life, after all. The interview was a personal decision, and we couldn’t be happier that Jenner will have the opportunity to tell his story on his own terms — whatever that story may be.
3. Bruce can begin to live his life as he wants — no matter what life that is
Rather than a sensationalized, quick snippet title in a tabloid, Jenner will have the opportunity to talk in-depth about his life and hopes for the future in this interview. Hopefully, removing the so-called “mystery” will allow Jenner the freedom to get on with his life without the added harassment he’s been subjected to lately. We hope more than anything that this is the case. And, as TIME points out, ABC has done a respectful and excellent job with their advertisements by revealing nothing. While, arguably, this is a technique to get more people to tune in, it also further allows Jenner to tell his story completely, in his own words.
“If Jenner comes out as transgender, those viewers brought in by ABC’s say-nothing approach will be exposed to the personal story of what could be the most famous transgender person in recent history,” writes TIME’s Daniel D’Addario. “A network that could well have sensationalized the news has, to a surprising and fair degree, toned down the provocation. Whatever happens Friday night can and will speak for itself.”
Bruce Jenner: The Interview will air tonight at 9 PM, ET on ABC.
(Image via ABCNews)