Bruce Jenner and Chaz Bono: What Can We Learn From Them? – Vol. 311, May 28, 2015
It is rather unfortunate when people who have gone through enough pan all their lives are harassed, bad mouthed and treated like dirt. Being a person who works in a field that few people understand, yet, many assume they know more than they do, I totally understand the frustration and upset of being labeled, being scorned and being told that my clients are not “ill” they are just out of control. Well, if someone is unable to control their urges, by that very definition, there is something that needs to be acknowledged and dealt with in a respectful and helpful manner.
A specialist at Boston Children’s Hospital stated that their are over 700,000 transgendered people in the U.S. While it is normal for a young child to demonstrate the opposite gender’s interests and behaviors, if it remains strong through the child’s pre-teens and teen years it is best to get the required help because 45% of them will attempt suicide. So, this is no laughing matter. It is time for adults to grow up and understand the very true pain others feel when they are dealing with something that was never of one’s own making, rather it is something that one was born with, necessitating appropriate treatment and the compassion of the rest of us.
In the world of transgendered people, the stigma attached is unbelievable. I could never understand the feelings they have, the confusion they go through figuring out their sexuality vs. their gender. Chaz Bono put it in easy to understand terms: Who you are when you go to bed is your gender, who you sleep with is your sexuality.
This is an important distinction because for Bruce Jenner, he always felt hat he was a girl trapped in a boy’s body, yet always was attractive to females never males. Chaz felt trapped in a girl’s body, never identified with his mother Cher, while always looking up to his father wanting to be strong like him.
When Bruce Jenner explained to his kids what was going on for him when he decided to make the “change over” to a female, he told them: that because he was so good at everything he did, this was God’s way of letting him know that he had a challenge in life. He further explained that this is because everyone has some challenges to overcome.
Many years ago right after I graduated college, I had a couple of neighbors who I liked very much who were homosexual. One was a male and the other was a female. Looking back on those times hanging around with their friends, I got a little bit of an inside view of what goes on with the gay and transexual world. The gay neighbor had a friend who visited often who was transgender. He was a man who was over 6 feet tall, wore his hair very long, wore bright red nail polish on his huge fingers, and was going through hair removal. His personality was outgoing and friendly. He wanted to be known by his feminine name. I would be remiss to say that he looked like a “normal” female, however, I found him to be a fun loving person who was quite at peace with himself. He had a very healthy attitude concerning his life and how he was living it.
Years ago, I had a client come to see me who was a male who wanted to have more feminine behaviors. He had a very slim build and a very soft voice, no friends and didn’t get along with his parents, though he was living with them at the time. When I suggested he get a consultation by a specialist at a nearby clinic to see if going through a sex change would be appropriate, he backed off from doing so. I really don’t know what happened with him because I didn’t see that there was anything that I could do for him. My feeling was that he really needed to figure out his gender identity and once that was done, he may have been able to make some friends.
Because I deal with many people who have all sorts of difficult life situations, some of them very traumatic, I have learned to listen to their stories and engage them in self-discovery. Because in reality that is what this work I do is all about. Likewise, the transgendered need to be understood for the challenges they face as they reconcile themselves with the fate that they have been given. It is challenging enough to understand that your gender doesn’t fit the mind you were given, because sexuality lives in one’s mind, not in one’s crotch as Chaz put it. Once this is understood by the person affected, they have many fears of how those who love them will take the news that they need to be authentically who they are, and that many times may mean changing their gender surgically.
Bruce Jenner has come out with his problem with the hope that he may be able to help some transgendered people realize that they aren’t alone and that they can live authentic lives. He is clear that if the reality show was a vehicle to allow him to at long last tell his true story after the 400 plus episodes, helping some others in the process the hardships he has underwent will have been worth it.
The last thing that I would like to say here is that until and unless you have experienced what another has, your need to listen without judgment, allowing you to learn that thing you would like for yourself, called” compassion.” For we all have our times of difficulties when an interested ear and a compassionate heart help more than pretty much anything else.
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