Why We Need To Leave Bruce Jenner Alone

by Irene Merrow

If you've found yourself on the Internet recently, which I'm going to assume you have because you are reading this article right now, you've probably heard a lot about Olympics star Bruce Jenner.

Tabloids, blogs and your everyday Internet trolls have been all up in his business as of late. Unfortunately, in this day and age, when it comes to celebrities, people are going to talk, and they're going to talk trash.

This is something I usually roll my eyes at as I wait in line at the pharmacy and catch a glance of the ridiculous headlines strewn across magazines.

However, with the recent case of Bruce Jenner, I find it hard to simply let it go with a sigh.

In the past few weeks, tabloids have made a mockery of Bruce Jenner and the speculation of his transgender identity.

This offensive rumor-spreading has made its way to the Internet, where, as usual, it has spiraled into a vortex of ignorance.

It's not news that the tabloids and Internet often serve as bullies, but in this case, they have crossed the line by attacking someone for something is so incredibly personal.

A person's sexuality is something only the person living it can fully understand, speak for and define (or in some cases, chose to not define).

It is something that should be kept private, unless a certain individual decides to share it with someone else, or the rest of the world.

Now, for the many straight people, this is taken for granted. We are the majority, and pretty much never ridiculed or made to feel ashamed about our sexuality.

Therefore, we have no problem putting our sexuality out in the open.

Why worry when there is no backlash?

Maybe that is why it is so hard for us to stop and think about how harmful it would be to out someone, or start a public conversation about someone's rumored sexuality, and then to laugh about it.

Still, it is no excuse.

One of the major issues at play here is the lack of sympathy for and awareness of the transgender community.

It is often said that the 'T' in LGBT is silent. While the entire LGBT community is still struggling to find acceptance, tolerance and justice in today's society, the transgender community experiences the most violence and discrimination.

There is a major lack of understanding when it comes to transgender.

How those who could be labeled as transgender choose to identify themselves is completely up to them. They might choose to have a sex change, they might not. They might choose to be referred to as “he,” “her” or “they.”

As stated before, it is extremely personal, not to mention a very sensitive subject to many. I mean, it is, after all, a person's identity.

So, when they see something they associate with their being, something they have struggled to live with in a society that often rejects them, being made into a laughing stock is extremely hurtful and harmful.

The tabloids poking fun at Bruce Jenner and his speculated transgender identity trigger the idea that being transgender is weird, wrong, gross or something to laugh at.

Some may say, “It's just a joke.” Well, guess what?

It's not so funny to those who find themselves and their identities as the butt of the joke. If this is your idea of a joke, you're probably not very funny.

It's unfortunate because there has been recent progress in advocating for transgender rights, as well as public awareness of the transgender identity.

For example, we can look to the transgender character of Sophia played by Laverne Cox on "Orange is the New Black."

Many people sympathized with this character, and came to understand the transgender identity a bit more as a result. For some reason, this seems to change when dealing with a real human being, such as Bruce Jenner.

Some argue that Bruce Jenner could use this as a way to advocate for the transgender community. Sure, but that is not necessarily his responsibility.

How about, instead, we think about how it is our responsibility to take this as a way of educating ourselves on the matter at hand, if we're so intrigued by it?

Instead of using our interest as a way of butting our noses into someone else's business and starting rumors, why don't we take that curious energy and do some research?

Why not make ourselves less ignorant, learn something and be productive?

I don't think Bruce Jenner deserves criticism for not coming out to the public. He has the right to come out on his terms, if he chooses to come out at all.

As stated before, coming out is extremely personal to each individual, and they should be able to do it on their own terms.

Now, imagine how hard it would be to come out when you have the spotlight on you, and magazines/tabloids already printing offensive articles and pictures before you have even come out.

Would that make you want to come out?

If there's anything we can take from this situation, at the very least, it's that there is still a lot of progress to be made when it comes to the rights of the LGBT community.

Clearly, we continue to make it a hostile environment, where coming out as transgender or any sort of queer sexuality, is ridiculed, gossiped about and laughed at.

That is not okay. The bottom line is a person's sexuality is his or her own business and no one else's.

Didn't our mothers ever teach us to mind our own damn business?