By Lisa Amaya
Although I didn’t catch the Bruce Jenner/Diane Sawyer interview live on Friday night, I watched it on YouTube last night. Some say Jenner did it for attention while others say it was courageous. I decided to talk with Tommy, a local 37-year-old gay transgender male. I used to work with Tommy a few years back at a call center in town.
The Jenner interview made me want to better understand the life of a transgender. I was very interested in getting Tommy’s perspective. I asked if he wanted to remain anonymous in the blog and he said no. His exact words were “Tommy is my name and it will never change. My mom gave me my name and told me to be proud of my name and who I am.”
He added, “I identify myself as a unique individual. Yes I am a male but like to dress in the female gender because of the style of clothes and fashion. I act more feminine when it comes to a gender role. Would I change myself? No. God made me who I am and I don’t consider myself to be female.”
Although Tommy didn’t watch the Bruce Jenner interview, he said he saw some intense reactions on social media.
“I saw how intense it was on Facebook and how people commented on his story. To me, you are who you are.”
According to Time Magazine, a total of 16.9 million viewers watched the interview Friday night on ABC’s 20/20. The topic inspired 972,000 tweets that night. It is unknown how many Facebook users posted.
A UCLA study estimates approximately 700,000 transgender people live in the United States. Based on what I have read and heard, the word transgender is an umbrella term. It holds different meanings for each individual. For example, some may be gay, straight or bi-sexual.
“For all intents and purposes, I’m a woman, Jenner, 65, told Diane Sawyer in the two-hour interview.”
“People look at me differently. They see you as this macho male, but my heart and soul and everything that I do in life–it is part of me. That female side is part of me. That’s who I am.”
Jenner is known for winning the gold medal in the decathlon at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. In recent years, he’s been a reality TV star on “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.” According to E!, Jenner will star in an eight part reality TV series about his transformation. The series doesn’t have a title right now but it will air on Sunday, July 26 at 9 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. The show will receive input from GLAAD and other LBGT organizations. The interview also discussed politics and family.
Tommy said he began wearing women’s clothing after college. He said he experimented with different styles before feeling comfortable in women’s clothing.
“I have struggled when I was growing up. I had times in my youth where I wanted to die because it was wrong to like men. I thought I was sick because I liked men and that I was a disgrace to God and my parents. I am now a gay man with an MBA and a BBA. I work in a call center in the medical field. I struggled in life and had to fight for who I am today, a confident, professional, good looking, unique individual.”
When asked how he coped with discrimination, he said he just had to learn to eventually let it go.
“My friends knew and accepted me. My family on the other hand didn’t accept it at first, except one of my sisters named Ruby. She loved me no matter what or who I was. My parents blamed each other because I told them I was gay. I came out the wrong way. I had a boyfriend at 21 and he peer pressured me into telling them. Of course, he was my first love and first boyfriend. My parents yelled at each other and blamed each other. In time, they came to their senses and accepted me because I’m their child.”
Because of Tommy’s friendly and confident personality, he is currently in a relationship and has several female friends these days. I’ve shared a few good times with Tommy when we worked together at the call center. We need to do it again sometime, Tommy! I want to thank Tommy for being completely honest and letting me share a huge part of his life in the blog. For obvious reasons, I didn’t know how he would react when I asked him the questions. He was very willing to answer my questions. Thanks again to Tommy for his time!