Ralph Higgins is a father, grandfather, husband, former high school teacher, retired business owner, author, musician and a few other things. He and his wife, Gayle, live in northern California. Gayle is a retired graphic designer and former business owner.
Monday, April 27, 2015
Bruce Jenner's Transition
a former Olympic decathlon champion want to transition into a 65-year-old
Most of us remember the 1976
Olympics and the world's best athlete running an extra lap, fists in the air
while flashing that famous smile after winning the decathlon.
Bruce Jenner had it all.He was a handsome 6 foot 2 inch kid in a
toned body and a smile that still turns my wife into a quivering bowl of Jello.
I keep a spray bottle of ice water handy
to cool her down during these attacks. I had to spray her down today while she
watched Brad Pitt in the movie "Troy."
But now macho Bruce Jenner wants to
be a woman...He says that in his mind
he is a woman.
Back in the '50s all the boys, myself included, made
jokes about Christine Jorgensen, the first man to become a woman.In those days that was mind-boggling.Contemplating the surgical
"elimination" process wasenough to make a young boy instinctively curl into a protective fetal
position. Louis Armstrong singing
"Mack the Knife" created an image of "Mack" in a surgical
gown with a meat cleaver as a scalpel.
In his recent interview with Diane
Sawyer, Bruce admitted that he was more female than male in terms of his self
concept.He said that this dilemma had
haunted him from early childhood. Evidently, that's how Bruce always saw
himself - as female.
Interestingly, after hearing
Jenner's story, the Russian athlete that Jenner beat for the decathlon gold
metal in the Olympics joked that he can't believe he got beat by a woman.
I don't follow Hollywood
stuff, sitcoms, and celebrity trash, but when I stand in the check-out line at
Safeway and wait as the checker yells "Price check on three," I can't
avoid the rags in the rack headlines. The strange family that is famous for
being famous continues to keep the tabloids in business. Now we watch as the patriarch
of that family turns into a woman before our eyes.
Jenner was an international hero and
I admired his athleticism, as I did with Bob Mathias before him.I don't know and I don't care about Jenner's
weird family, but I learned something about Bruce by watching his interview.I also learned something about Diane Sawyer,
who lacked the intelligence to decipher Jenner's explanation of the
psychodynamics of the conflict he has lived with since childhood. She was more
interested in what Jenner's sexual orientation would be after his transition.
Sawyer went so far as to ask Bruce
if he was a lesbian.I told Gayle that if
a magic genie popped out of a bottle and changed me into a woman, I would
immediately become a lesbian. Jenner
responded that he is a normal heterosexual, i.e. he's attracted to women.But sexual attraction is not his issue.
Jenner tried to explain that sexual orientation and
desire has nothing to do with his attempt to bring his body into alignment with
his self concept.The man is 65 years
old and not focused on getting laid.Unfortunately,
Sawyer's depth of understanding went about as deep as Jenner's nail polish.
I had firm preconceptions about this
entire Jenner thing prior to hearing him explain his background.Since early childhood when he would put on
his sister's clothes well into his adulthood, as he tried to hide his conflict
over sexual identity, Jenner tells a sad story. It's a very complex issue.
After listening to Bruce during the
interview, I came away with better understanding of some of the psychological
elements and the process that led to his "coming out."The "nature nurture" question had
been settled in my mind, but if Jenner is being truthful, I may have to allow
more latitude in my position.
However, I still believe that the
appetite that one feeds is the one that grows.This is most easily confirmed in the area of sex and is a good topic for
I admire Jenner for his honesty and
courage in revealing himself to the world.However I don't agree that he "had to" lay his problem at the
feet of his ten kids and seven grandchildren, his mother, his entire family,
and his many fans.He had lived with
this problem for over six decades and at the age of 65, why not hang in for the
remaining years, maintaining his "manly" image for the sake of his
Many times confession takes the
burden off the "confessor" and simply passes that burden on to
someone else; in this case Jenner's family.
Diane Sawyer failed to focus on the
developmental basis of Jenner's problem, but tried in vain to move it into the
area of homosexuality and politics.She
was authentically shocked when Bruce told her that he wasn't an "Obama
fan" and, in fact is a conservative Republican.Even more shocking to Sawyer, he also stated
that he is a Christian.That blew the
Sawyer may have left the interview bewildered
and confused by the psychodynamics involved in Bruce Jenner's conflicts as well
as the fact that he is a Christian and a political conservative. I, on the other
hand, am left with a better understanding of the lifetime psychological battle
of a good, but conflicted man.