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By Michelle Eickmeyer
When Bruce Jenner sat down with Diane Sawyer, he openly discussed a battle he has been fighting for most of his life. And on 24 April, he let the world in on his secret: Bruce Jenner, American hero athlete and reality pseudo-star, is transgender. Though Jenner is an actual stranger to most of us, many people do feel that they know Bruce. They may have seen him on TV, or on a magazine cover. They may have rooted for him all those years ago as he seemed to embody America’s battle against the USSR. Because of this unique position and circumstance, Jenner’s revelations and transition are special. For the first time, perhaps ever, most of the country (if not the world) can truly say they know someone who identifies as transgender. On ` June, the world said goodbye to Bruce, and hello to Caitlyn Jenner. She is who she has always been, and is now sharing her battle to be herself, and her appearance, with the world.
Caitlyn is the most recent in a growing list of main-stream transgender people. In 2007, Candis Cayne turned heads as Billy Baldwin’s mistress for 11 episodes on ABC’s Dirty Sexy Money, marking the first time a trans character appeared for more than a single episode on prime time American television. Chaz Bono began his transition in 2008, after suffering for years with the press. Laverne Cox, one of the stars of Orange is the New Black, became the first transgender person to appear on the cover of Time Magazine (May 2014) for an article titled “The Transgender Tipping Point.” Andreja Pejic (Instagram) was the first transgender model to appear in Vogue magazine while Hari Nef (Instagram) signed with modeling agency IMF earlier this year, a first for the powerhouse agency. There are others, famous and not, making changes every day.
Less 1/3 of 1% of the U.S. population identify as transgender (Source). Historically, this group is the recipients of an extremely disproportionate amount of violence, 20% of murders and 40% of violence by police. (Source) More recent statistics for the first quarter of 2014 show that 10% of violent crimes were committed against trans kids under 18. Kids.They were beaten, stabbed, stoned, shot, hanged, strangled, and dismembered. (Source) Sometimes by strangers; sometimes by family. Too often, they kill themselves.