Transgender Activists: Be More Sensitive to Bruce Jenner

AP/Splash Photo
AP/Splash Photo

Former Olympic gold medalist Bruce Jenner’s decision to transition from a man into a woman has been met with mixed reactions from the media and population at large. The pending change has also caused local and national transgender groups to call for people to be more sensitive towards Jenner’s perceived choice, and to denounce those who are turning what is largely viewed as Jenner’s journey into a punchline.

“This is something that I think could push somebody over the edge as a transperson,” Rachel Hudson told the local CBS News affiliate in Sacramento. Rachel is a transgender person who works with the Sacramento Gender Health Center. She started life off as a man and in 1999 made the decision to leave behind a wife, son and house in order to become a woman.

Among the statements Rachel perceives as being insensitive are those from individuals such as the man who hosts a parody YouTube news show called “Shot of the Day” in which he said during a recent broadcast, “Have you seen Bruce Jenner lately? I can’t tell the different between Bruce Jenner and Nancy Pelosi.”

Studies suggest that transgender people are prone to depression and suicide at much higher rates in general, and also in higher numbers than the lesbian, gay, and bisexual adult population. A surveyed study conducted by the Williams Institute at UCLA’s school of law in January of 2014 showed that the prevalence of suicide attempts by transgender peoples was 41%, which vastly exceeds the 4.6% of the national average. Suicide attempts among trans men were at 46% and 42% for trans women.

Rachel told CBS Sacramento that what Jenner is going through is “personal” and that it’s something he, like other transgender individuals, must go through on his own. “It’s a serious thing, it’s not a joke. They’re not doing it for fun. They’re doing it to be their authentic self.”

A 2011 study conducted by the Transgender Law and Policy Institute indicates that approximately 5% of the United States population is transgender.

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz