Is being Trans* and Famous Self-serving? In the guise of activism?
This month ‘People Magazine‘ have got a great interview with Bruce Jenner (of the Kardashian’s Clan), the ex sports star, actor, motivational speaker, and was a regular reality star, heading the Jenner household as part of ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians’ (endlessly repeated on e4 UK) but now, has finally stated, after a lifetime of ‘dabbling’ with crossdressing, and HRT, and some questionable face-lifts in the early days, that he (as she was then) has been relentlessly ridiculed about, even ‘Family Guy’ Creator Seth MacFarlane has had Bruce in a dress long before now in his cartoons mocking him. So I think this was probably well known inside Hollywood, but to have Bruce state it in interviews herself is finally sealing the deal.
Of course well known transgender people coming out is nothing new, Chaz Bono, Kellie Maloney, Lana Wachowski, we could even add Roberta Cowell to that (see our library) who was a racing driver and socialite of the time and made huge news and was featured in a similar way in Picture Post in the early 1950s… No doubt more will come as Laura Jane Grace and others actually gain some positive publicity from it, that can work in the favour of artists as it always has, the 1980s was rife with crossdressing singers who have long since put their frocks away, so there is money in it as any second-rate drag artist demonstrates (no frock no gimmick, no job, NEXT!) I am not suggesting the people here are no talented, rather that presenting in a way contrary to your assignment at birth gets you noticed.
It certainly is a second wind for the likes of Kellie Maloney (I had never heard of her before this) and Bruce Jenner who are both at retirement age – and society is quite ageist – yet, here they are, back on top of the tabloids once more for just going to see their doctor? Transgender has always sold, it has always been good for the press as an ex Editor once said the dream headline for him would have been this, nothing shifts papers better than a celeb transgender story, be that a scandal like the alleged Eddie Murphy dating trans* or the reality shows featuring the Arquettes and Bonos, for just being related to someone famous, they get a lot of press get a reality show, and get ‘opportunities’, then Jenna Talaclova swans in and they eyes shift to the trans* most people want… hot young trans* who look like women…
The question should be asked, if she had a face like a bag of spanners would anyone be interested?
So if you are trans* and not well known make sure you are beautiful and under 20! If not make sure you are already famous, or exploit other trans*people who are… Or better still make your fortune with male-privilege and then it doesn’t matter.
This is all a bit murky, as if we forget trans* issues completely, and just see Bruce as a woman, treat Bruce as a woman, who has always been a woman, and forget about all the rest, would anybody be interested? The truth is no, they wouldn’t, so the only thing of interest is the past, the male, the ‘male is on sale’, when trans*women appear in press or on television, the first reaction by the viewer is judgmental:
1. Do they look like a man or woman – trans*men transition quite well so we will stick to female for this. Are there any ‘reveals’ on the person (Adam’s Apple, Large Hands, Big Feet, Height, Jawline, Voice etc) that they can instantly begin to mock, to protect themselves from what they may see as homoerotic feelings.
2. Do they still have a penis.
2. Are they (the viewer) sexually attracted to this transgender woman? This is where violence can occur, simply because they are sexually attracted to a woman with a penis (or who once possessed one).
3. Are they a threat? ‘Jerry Springer Husband stealer’, blackmailing prostitutes, slept with a thousand lovers etc… As this is a guise for Television that is still lapped-up! Trans* shown as deviants unless they are pretty and pass of course. But then they make the cisgender men excited and can end with violence as our tv logs show every week.
If you are young, 19, beautiful and smart then it really doesn’t matter what gender you are, as you will likely be popular, or at least be able to cash in in some way.
However, if a person is 60+ that ship has sailed! So transition in older age requires some security as a rule. I have spoken to many transgender women (and men), who have transitioned in their ‘Autumn years’, and they often say, that they needed to be secure and have their house in order, their partner or parents (who maybe ashamed of them) pass away first, they may move to another part of the country first, as they fear their social history might make them a target.
For some, who are lucky, they can live in the sometimes Peter Pan world of London, where their identity is so easily lost amongst the cosmopolitan atmos, a place of strangers, who mostly commute, and they soon lose sight of what it is like to exist outside the M25. In reality their contribution would have more value in their home towns where it is a tougher crowd, than to escape. As if all was well why the need to escape at all?
There have been some high profile people who have come out, like Kellie Maloney who unless you have been under a rock in the last 18months was a Boxing promoter named Frank, and had ‘his’ house in order long before she transitioned, Bruce Jenner, is exactly the same. There is very little risk, other than some random street thug or, medical complications that Kellie herself experienced following facial surgery.
There is some resentment from transgender and cisgender, women, that if they are a woman, how can they live and function as a man for 60+ years using male-privilege, father children, marrying (and ‘lying’), and then when all the planets are aligned for them, they say, “I am gonna be a woman now see yah!”
So the famous (and infamous see Chelsea Manning who many still believe is playing this trans*card to get a lighter sentence and let’s face it had the then Bradly not been trans* would trans* people be beating a drum still?) who transition in the public eye usually get a few reactions from the press, public and media… Let’s take Bruce Jenner for instance.
The PC press tiptoe around, and are terrified to say probably what they really want to say,
1. “Go off and be a woman, and what you flogging all this for?” Kris (Kim K’s Momager Kris Jenner) will likely start to ‘manage’ Bruce. And add her to the pile of ‘Kardashian Inc.’ business opportunities. Um A series following Bruce’s transition? Camera’s at the ready?..
This is nothing new, as sister of the Arquette dynasty has already done something similar with her TV show (we have the series archived) that basically … ended and um well… with her currency gone … next!.. But they are already coming back mentioning Alexis here. So cynics may say, “go away and live your life transition and have fun.” Rather than piggy-back onto Bruce to try and revive Alexis’ career.
2. This is ‘brave’ – a million have gone before where is their support?
It is going to advance transgender issues is often touted? I doubt it, as Bruce is 65 and secure financially lives in a bubble, with a supportive family before taking the plunge. This gives the impression it is a ‘choice’. I know it is not but we are talking about how others will interpret all this. It is similar to Kellie Maloney in a way, again secure, had a family, made plenty of money with ‘male-privilege’, and now can do more or less what she wants. Some parents as a result may say with their own transgender kids –
“Wait 50 years like them!” At least you can have the life and still change later… (after we are dead).
Some may say,
“do what you like, be a beacon to stand on a stage and pontificate about trans*rights,”
despite being probably the least qualified person in the room to do so… But hey you are famous so I will listen! Until the next famous hot person comes along as we will bore of you within 5 years.
I do admire Lana Wachowski (to some extent) as she has kinda weathered the storm and got on with business. But again, some might say, “yeah but you made your fortune first as a fella!” Money is not always the variable here of course. Actually, the richest transgender woman in the world – bet you don’t even know her name – but check out this link. When you are this rich, people do not care as most of the people around you depend on you for their well-being (jobs).
So does a famous person help or hinder transgender people?
I would say both. On the one hand Bruce will no doubt have an army of young fans (mostly female or Gay – hey it is the Kardashians!) Who will be quickly won over with the help of Kim, Kendall and the gang. Where they tweet, others will follow! But in a month where we saw Louis Theroux’s documentary about how Transgender teens are bullied (STILL), a month where we saw Our Gender Swap Wedding and how they were in tears talking about the hate-crime they suffer that puts an awful strain on this lovely young trans* couple’s relationship. And this, despite all the Blessing Chambers (Hollyoaks), Hayley in Coronation St, The Dirty Sexy Money’s (Candis Cayne), the Laverne Cox series Orange is the New Black, despite the countless transgender people who have appeared on Lorraine Kelly‘s Sofas for interviews, or ‘This Morning”s sofas. We still have a headline like this… Transgender Woman Hounded.
Nothing has changed! Unless you are rich, famous, or exceptionally beautiful – like Jenna – or live in LA or London that is! April Ashley in the 1960s was simply the Jenna of today. Nothing changes.
I have been reviewing media for over 30 years. And no matter who comes forward and the work they do, being trans* remains the last Taboo for most cisgender folk to deal with – it is almost primeval human behaviour that cannot easily be moved like trying to educate a chimp. And as such it triggers the most hateful behaviour – even in comedy (after all who cares when trans* are objectified for laughs?).
Take a look here for more on that!
Will Bruce Change anything? I doubt it. Leave the bubble of LA move into the ‘Bible Belt’ in a house on your own and let us know? The ivory Towers of London and LA (or New York) ain’t worth squat!
That said for Bruce the woman who is blooming. I wish her every happiness.