Tonight I explained Bruce Jenner’s transformation to my 9-year-old.
It was a smoother conversation than I expected.
Kids are naturally curious, and they notice more than we think. My kids don’t watch the nightly news on TV, or read People Magazine or US Weekly, but it’s natural in this digital age of information overload, for them to see things.
And let’s face it – step aside Kim Kardashian, because Caitlyn Jenner broke the internet this week! Her amazing transformation was blasted all over the media. My daughter repeatedly saw her Vanity Fair cover photo splashed everywhere, and she began to wonder just who she is and what she had done to make her “newsworthy”.
So she asked me.
I told her I’d explain it to her, but I wanted her to listen to the whole story.
Having lived in New York City for many years, and having friends from all walks of life, I am completely supportive and proud of Bruce/Caitlyn, for finally choosing to live her life openly and honestly. I don’t judge. My friends come in every color of the rainbow. I have gay and lesbian friends. I have attended a couple of the best weddings ever, and they were both weddings uniting two women. So I consider myself to be very accepting and open. I simply think that everyone deserves to be happy.
As liberal as I am, I still felt like I should be cautious when explaining to a child, just who Caitlyn Jenner is. Of course my daughter knows that everyone is not the same. I have tried hard to teach her that each person is unique. And differences are awesome. We can learn a lot from others who may not act, look, or talk, like we do.
But the whole adult, sexual side of this, made me think I should tread the waters carefully with her.
So I started by showing her pictures of Bruce Jenner, and his famous moment at the 1976 Olympics. She recognized him. Then I showed her more pictures of him throughout the years. And much to my dismay, she recognized him as “the dad of all those famous girls”. GREAT. Yes, I told her, that’s Bruce Jenner.
Then I showed her Caitlyn’s Vanity Fair cover. And I said, “this is Bruce Jenner now”. And not surprisingly, her mouth fell open. She said, “I never thought that was a man, she’s beautiful”.
And then we had a very mature talk (in words geared toward a 9-year-old), about how everyone is unique. And different is okay.
I told her that some people feel that their inside is different from their outside. They may have been born a boy, but on the inside they feel like a girl. And that’s not important. The important thing is that they share kindness with others and that their choices about how they live their lives, don’t hurt anyone else.
And my very smart 9-year-old said, “Well then, if he wants to be a girl, that wouldn’t hurt anyone else, so he should be able to be a girl, right?”. And I said, “right”.
Yep, she got it. That was easy.
At the end of our conversation, I thought for the millionth time, just how great kids are. Oh, to be young, and accepting, and know nothing about judging other people.
I hope she hangs onto that for a long time.