Members of Bay Area transgender community react to Bruce Jenner interview

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ByKatie Marzullo KGO logo
Friday, April 24, 2015
Members of transgender community react to Bruce Jenner interview
Member of the Bay Area transgender community gathered at ABC7 News to watch Diane Sawyer's exclusive interview with Bruce Jenner together and shared their reactions.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Olympic athlete and reality star Bruce Jenner has revealed in an exclusive interview with Diane Sawyer that Jenner is going to live from now on as woman. In the special, Jenner said it would be the last interview as Bruce.

Members of the transgender community gathered at ABC7 News to watch the interview together and share their reactions. The group gave positive feedback, for the most part.

Jenner says he is a woman, he did not give a new name and says he doesn't mind if people continue to use the pronoun "he." The panel who watched the interview said that's "her" trying to make other people comfortable, something they can relate to.

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Theresa Sparks, San Francisco director of the Human Rights Commission, says listening to Jenner's story was like reliving her own life.

"I transitioned in my mid 40s," Sparks said. "Whether it's mid 40s or your mid 60s, the question about why now is why not? The real question is, why didn't I have the nerve to do it 20 years earlier."

Carmen Stewart who works with transgender youth says she's inspired by Jenner.

"More than anything I didn't want to tell people I'm transgender because if I could skip past this part in life and live, but that's not helping other people. That's not looking up to the older people who did it before, like Bruce Jenner, who weren't able to come out," Stewart said. "So, it makes me proud to be out."

Ina and AJ Turpen Fried are transgender, married and the parents of a two-year-old.

"Bruce Jenner presented a complex, human picture of one way to be transgender," said technology journalist Ina Turpen Fried. "I was glad they didn't present it as the only way to be transgender and I'm glad they addressed the fact Bruce Jenner has access to money and a lot of transgender people don't."

"For him, it's really about what's on the inside and not on the outside, as I think it is with most people," said AJ Turpen Fried, a stay at home parent. "But most people in the media get fixated on what's on the outside."

Tiffany Woods, a transgender advocate, says people who haven't lived through something like this should not play arm chair quarterback.

"This isn't a football game," Woods said. "This isn't the 49ers on Sunday or the Raiders. This is real life for her and this is real life for us. It plays out every day, not just for two hours."

Janet Halfin says she hopes people can now let "Bruce" go.

"He's still the American hero. There's nothing nobody can say, or take away from," said Janet Halfin, a medical assistant. "Like she said, 'That was me then. This is me now.' And then you're going to see me in the future."

One other interesting topic from the group in response to the issue of how could Jenner be so masculine, such an athlete. They said, easy. Sparks said many transwomen have masculine jobs, lifestyles and many are in the military.

For full coverage on Bruce Jenner, click here.