It was mere minutes into Bruce Jenner's interview with Diane Sawyer on 20/20 (which aired Friday) that Jenner found himself reaching for a tissue. His voice uneven with the threat of tears, he told Sawyer, "It's been really tough. But here I am, I'm still here. That's the good news." From there, Sawyer listened intently and offered gentle prompts ("So Bruce Jenner is...?") before Jenner revealed that he is "for all intent and purposes...a woman." The monumental, brave admission came early in the interview, and the two hour special that followed offered a comprehensive look at the inner struggles that have enveloped the Olympian's entire life. And, after watching the interview, there was no doubt in my mind that Diane Sawyer was the perfect choice in offering Jenner a vehicle to tell his story and — as he put it — "do some good" by altering many perceptions of people who may be unfamiliar with the struggles some go through with gender identity.
Since he separated from Kris Jenner in 2013, speculation and rumors about Jenner have been met with disparaging remarks, jokes, and biting scrutiny. The reality is that struggles with gender identity are a reality for many individuals — a reality that is often forced into concealment by said individuals due to the continued lack of dialogue that exists. Based on the immense outpouring of support Jenner has received following his interview via social media and statements, it seems clear that Sawyer and Jenner have been successful in dismantling much of the scrutiny preceding the special, turning any disparaging commentary on its head.
Sawyer exercised empathy both during her questioning and throughout voiceovers peppered throughout the special. Rather than simply ask questions, she often guided Jenner in telling his story by posing statements with a seeming ellipses to allow Jenner to finish the sentence — therefore relinquishing control of the special to Jenner, where it rightfully should be. This is so important: this was Jenner's story to tell.
At one point, Sawyer even allowed Jenner to take the reigns completely, asking, "What's the question you would ask you?" Jenner responded that, in Sawyer's position, he would ask if he was "gonna be ok...I think I'm gonna be ok, I hope I'm gonna be ok, I feel like I'm gonna be ok." With a small smile, he added, "2015 is gonna be quite a ride."
Along with 2015 sizing up to be "quite a ride" for Jenner, he also said during his interview that telling his story would "make a difference in the world." I'd have to say that's pretty good prediction.
Editor’s Note: Per Jenner’s stated preference, Bustle will continue referring to Jenner using he/his pronouns for the time being. We will follow his lead and make any changes to this policy as needed in the future.