Friday night, Diane Sawyer’s interview with Bruce Jenner aired and Jenner announced what had been rumored, speculated upon and openly mocked for months prior—that Jenner is transgender and is in the process of transitioning.
Regardless of your feelings for the Kardashian family or Keeping Up with the Kardashians as a show, cultural phenomenon or pox upon society, one thing is true: one of the most famous families in the world—a family admired by millions of people, many of whom might never otherwise encounter a trans person and might only think of them as jokes—now has a visible trans person. Thanks to the fame, infamy and public visibility of the family, Jenner too is visible. Over 17 million people watched Friday’s interview, some likely for the hope of a disrespectful spectacle, but so, shockingly many with overwhelming support and positivity.
As Bruce said in the interview, “What I am doing is going to do some good. And we’re going to change the world. I really, firmly believe that.”
And that indeed might be exactly what happens. Bruce Jenner is once again a hero. But the fact is this wouldn’t have the impact it will have without the fame and notoriety of America’s first family of nonsense. Even Olympian Bruce Jenner couldn’t have commanded that kind of audience, this kind of mass of support. Only Kardashian Patriarch Bruce Jenner could.
The Kardashians, by virtue of their massive, totally confusing and mind-boggling fame, will make a difference. Are making a difference. We might not like them. We might think Kris is a wicked monster, we might think Kim is a vapid femmebot, but what other family has the immense following they do? What other family has the resources, in terms of, what, like 40 television shows, to make visible Bruce and the trans community? What other family is not merely preaching to the progressive choir already on board but the perhaps less progressive, less understanding population who otherwise might continue on in ignorance?
I’m grateful for Bruce Jenner. And because of the spotlight they’ve provided, I’m grateful for the Kardashians. I honestly never thought I’d be able to say that without including this picture: