One of Hollywood’s favourite father figures may have shifted the future of transgender awareness in the United States beyond all belief. As holder of an Olympic gold medal and father of six children, Bruce Jenner is the nuclear archetype of a red-blooded American male – so to hear him announce, “Yes. I am a woman” on primetime television is a truly mammoth step towards global trans acceptance.
With average viewing figures of 3.5 million people tuning in every week and annual revenue of around $65,000,000, it is impossible to deny that the Keeping up with the Kardashians franchise is a cultural force to be reckoned with. In his own words, Jenner (husband of head-honcho Kris Kardashian) said his brave exposé would change the world”, and it is hard to imagine a bigger opportunity to spread awareness than through the world’s most powerful celebrity family.
The Kardashians have proudly unearthed an aspect of reality television that is rarely seen these days: reality. “We’ve done 425 episodes over eight years now,” says Jenner. “The entire run I thought ‘Oh my god’. This whole thing, the one true story in the family was the one I was hiding. The one thing that could really make a difference in people’s lives was in my soul, and I couldn’t tell that story.”
The exaggerated phenomena surrounding the Kardashians makes it easy to forget this is a tight-knit family of real people, dealing with a real experience that will change their future. Love her or hate her, leading lady Kim Kardashian is, undeniably, a figure that millions of young girls aspire to. People should, if nothing else, appreciate her empathy and success in explaining her stepfather’s transition in the simplest of terms: “He has to deal with this for his entire life,” she asserts. “Waking up and feeling like ‘Woah, this isn’t my body!’ This doesn’t feel comfortable”.
In May, E! broadcast a two-part special of Keeping up with the Kardashians dedicated entirely to Bruce, featuring intimate conversations with the entire family and intensely emotional moments between husband and wife. The special looked at the family’s struggle to process their own feelings, hearing from Bruce about finally living life as the person he’s always known himself to be. Through sharing their own family’s story, the Kardashians are hoping to help other families and raise awareness.
By keeping the cameras rolling as Bruce transitioned to Caitlyn, the family are unquestionably paving the way for trans acceptance across the globe. And with statistics showing that 1 in 12 transgender people suffer some sort of violent attack in the United States, it could not have come quick enough.
Words: L.A. Winter