The overwhelming response to Bruce Jenner's announcement on Friday on her transitioning process has been positive, but Zoe Tur, the outspoken transsexual activist, is less than thrilled with the Olympic champion-turned-reality television star.
In the Washington Post on Friday Tur, a two-time Emmy Award winning broadcast journalist and special correspondent for Inside Edition, wrote an op-ed entitled "Trans people need an icon. But Bruce Jenner is the worst possible choice."
Citing shows like "Orange Is The New Black" and "Transparent," Tur says that "the transgender community is finally having its moment" in mainstream culture." But that "positive trajectory could be derailed" if Jenner is turned into the spokesperson for the movement.
The reason? That Kardashian connection.
"Just as the transgender experience is beginning to be normalized in American culture, it will be swept up with the ultimate symbol of abnormality and dysfunction: the Kardashian family. If what the transgender movement seeks is acceptance; association with the Kardashian circus is the last thing it needs. While television can help normalize the lives of marginalized people, it also can exploit their hardships and reinforce stereotypes, reducing their lives to mere entertainment."
While acknowledging Jenner's struggle, Tur concludes: "But in being a public spokeswoman for the transgender community, Jenner is imperfect. So far, Jenner's transition has served only to strengthen existing stereotypes of the trans community. Everything about the Kardashian family's public image centers around shock and dysfunction -- the very image the trans people are trying to shed. To be a true idol for the transgender movement, Jenner will need to break with her reality-TV image and acknowledge the struggles of all transgender people. She needs to put the interests of the community above the interests of the Kardashian brand. Jenner is, after all, a champion -- and a champion is exactly what the movement needs."
After watching the show on Friday night, Tur remains unconvinced. Speaking on Michael Smerconish's CNN show on Saturday night, she said:
"I think Bruce Jenner did a very good job initially and was very sympathetic. In fact, I was moved to tears by the opening response, opening remarks between Jenner and Diane Sawyer. However, clearly what I thought would happen wound up happening and this turned out to be one long tease for the big reveal that will happen in a reality show, possibly Keeping Up With the Kardashians. So Jenner answered one question, then refused, evaded the rest of the question. Something to tease another show. We really didn't learn very much."
Tur also criticized Sawyer for her softball questions. "She's a very tough reporter and that Jenner just wasn't very forthcoming. I thought this was going to be a come clean moment..."
Recalling a similar interview she had over sexual reassignment surgery, Tur recalled answering every question and seeing how radically her life changed in the process. Jenner, on the other hand, did not.
"Jenner would not talk about sexuality. Also sexual reassignment surgery... And also didn't want to be labeled as gay or lesbian and said, 'I'm straight. I'm straight'..."
In the interview Jenner said, "I am not gay. I am as far as I know, heterosexual... I've never been with a guy. I have always been married, raising kids."
"So you're straight but you're attracted to women and you're a woman. According to my math, that makes you a lesbian, right? This whole issue with gender identity and sexuality is very confusing. I've gone through it and my sexually flipped. I'm a straight female now, so I'm attracted to guys. You can't be straight and be attracted to women if you're female, I think."
Asked if she was being evasive on that issue to Sawyer, Tur said.
"No. This is somebody that is not surrendering to the process and who is still trying to cling onto that maleness, that macho behavior and also the past accomplishments. Somebody who is desperately trying to hang onto male privilege. But that's not what happens when you transition. You give up everything. You start a new life. You start with hormones, it's a spiritual awakening. And then when you come out, it's your spiritual rebirth. And you're born into a new world and everything changes.
"But not for Jenner. Jenner wants to continue being this macho, ultra-macho straight character. And it is inconsistent with hormone replacement therapy. And it is inconsistent with sexual reassignment surgery, which she says she's going for. She danced around it, but said she has two letters... required to get the surgery. So she has a psychiatric clearance to transition to female. So there you go. She's going all the way. She said it. So I don't know how you can have sexual reassignment surgery and you're sexuality flips a third of the time..."
What advice would she give Jenner?
"Put the seat down in the middle of the night...
"This is your life. You're female. And with that comes major changes. In the way you think. The way you behave. The hormones take effect. The estrogen is not fighting testosterone... You start feminizing more and more. So you got to give into the process. We are watching somebody who is very uncomfortable being transgendered."
When Smerconish acknowledged that he had more sympathy for Jenner, Tur responded she was sympathetic.
"I just had gone through it. And if I was talking to Jenner right now, I'd say, 'Surrender. Give in. Stop doing this because you'll be much happier.' And she wants to be happy. She deserves a chance of happiness. But you got to cut the ties with the Kardashians. You got to be your own person. And you have got to be comfortable in your own skin. And the other thing is give up the hype. Stop hyping. Stop hyping another show. Come clean. We need you."
From our media partner EDGE