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Is Bruce Jenner's Transition A Step Forward For Athletes Everywhere?

May 20, 2015 2 min read

Bruce Jenner revealed details of his gender transition in a two part special episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians. While most of the show focused on his relationship with his family and the reactions of the Kardashian/Jenner children, it does leave one wondering about his relationship to the sports community. For decades Jenner has been involved in a sports culture that generally has a narrow definition of what it means to be a 'man.' Jenner said:
My gender identity was always an issue. People don’t see that on the outside. They don’t know the struggle on the inside. I just literally ran away from it. I [became] this male macho guy and proved to the world my manhood.
Jenner started sports as a kid because he wasn't ready to be open with his gender. He poured all of his energies into his sports career as a means of ignoring the conflict he was feeling inside, saying, "My whole life I’ve used distractions. Certainly the Games were the biggest distraction from who I am." Bruce Jenner played the role of masculine, macho athlete perfectly, winning a gold medal at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. He became an international name when he set the world record in the decathlon. But he did all this while compromising his own truth. "Everyone thinks I gotta be this boy. As a young person, you’re just totally confused with no help," Jenner says, pointing to the pressures faced by young men in athletics. Those who don't fit the right mold, are left looking for ways to hide their true identities. Not every man in sports (or in general) wants to live this way. And they shouldn't have to. It will be interesting to see what, if anything, happens now in the sports community. Perhaps Jenner's story will encourage other trans identified individuals to come forward. Maybe this will create a more tolerant space for queer athletes across the board. Jenner explained things best when he said:
At a point in life you get to wonder who should we make happy here? Who should I live my life for? Should I live my life for all these wonderful people, or should I live my life for myself?
Kudos, Bruce for living for yourself now. Maybe this will lead the way to a time when we will stop expecting our athletes to live for us in the lives we think they should have. Maybe this will teach us to back off, to admire their determination and skill but allow them the space to live as their true selves, whatever that looks like. h/t: Elite Daily

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