May 11, 2015 11:24AM

Oyster Diaries: Why Bruce Jenner's Transition Matters, By Norrie

"I too was once called Bruce."

Norrie is an activist and political cartoonist who's also the first person in the Western world to be legally recognised as neither male nor female, but rather as gender neutral. In the wake of Bruce Jenner's recent interview with Diane Sawyer and the just-released E! special teaser (which you can watch below), we asked Norrie to put down some thoughts on what this high-profile story means for the trans community and beyond.  

Bruce Jenner has been roundly ridiculed by trashy gossip media since it first caught hints of this former macho Olympic champion and current patriarch of the reality TV Kardashian family, possibly undergoing a transition in their gender presentation. Like many in the sex- and gender-diverse community, and many other decent human beings, I was horrified to see a camera crew from TMZ monstering Jenner to and from what turned out to be medical appointments regarding laryngeal surgery.

I was never as butch as Jenner, although we obviously have similar genetic backgrounds, and I too was once called Bruce. Perhaps this made it easier for me to see this person identifying as a woman despite once having a hairy chest. I had a hairy chest. I found that amusing, that I was so physically masculine while being so mentally female — until the joke wore thin, and I took medical measures to change my gender presentation in my early twenties, just as Jenner is now doing in their sixties. Better late than never.

Why now, then? Shouldn't old people just be old, and stay as they are and not change, because only young people are allowed to do that? Who says you're only allowed to do things at a certain age? But what about the family? What about the wife? And the children?

Jenner has obviously thought long and hard about not only their own transition, but the impact on their family, and discusses this in their interview with Diane Sawyer. Their fears about how this could affect their family may have held them back for years, but their (famous reality TV) family has turned out to be entirely supportive.

As Sawyer noted in that interview: "In a world in which so many families reject a transgender parent or child, this family wants you to know there is another way."

Jenner acknowledges their privilege, and those who paved the way for acceptance of gender and sex diversity, and hopes that being public with their transition will further social acceptance of diversity. Yes, Jenner is a reality TV star, so they're getting paid for this too, but I'm sure they could find less scrupulous ways to make money. And, the reason anyone is a reality TV star is because the audience are interested in them as characters, and in Jenner's case, because they are intelligent and honest and deeply concerned about those they care for.

In the interview, Sawyer asks Jenner, "Are you a Republican?" to which Jenner looked around at the display of their accumulated symbols of wealth and said, "Well, yeah."

Sex and gender diversity is not just an issue for left wing sex-non-specific hippies with rainbow fauxhawks (like yours truly), but for all of society, and the one factor you can be sure of when it comes to people is diversity. No two alike. There's the norm, and there's the normal distribution curve, which includes not only the bulk of more or less average attributes in the middle, but also the weirder stuff on the thin bits of the curve. We're all part of what makes up normal.

Jenner's coming out is not my coming out, it is not the coming out of a black businessman, it is not the transition of an Asian nurse, it is the transition story of one privileged rich white media-savvy reality TV star. It doesn't have to be everyone's story for everyone to appreciate what it means to them. And it's got more people thinking and talking about gender and diversity and acceptance. That can only be good for us all, both as individuals, and as a society.

Photography: Max Doyle for Oyster #105

Norrie