Bruce Jenner – TransJenner Hero

Bruce Jenner – TransJenner Hero

Bruce Jenner WheatiesBoxBruce Jenner was interviewed by Diane Sawyer on 20/20 last week and told the world about his journey to become a woman. Bruce Jenner explained about how he’s felt and what he needs to do to fulfill his life.

Thanks to the interview we were exposed to something we don’t usually see on national television, especially from a reality show star: someone speaking honestly and openly from their heart.

Here’s how Variety Magazine evaluated the interview: “Audiences turned out in big numbers Friday night for ABC’s much-anticipated two-hour Bruce Jenner interview on “20/20,” which drew the newsmagazine’s highest ratings in key demos on the night in more than 15 years.

Nielsen estimates that Diane Sawyer’s sitdown with the former Olympic decathlete-turned-reality star averaged a 5.2 rating/17 share in adults 18-49 and 16.9 million viewers overall. That will make it the week’s top-rated program in all categories as well as the top non-sports program in the young-adults demo since the season finale of Fox’s “Empire” in mid-March.

This is the best 18-49 result on a Friday for “20/20” since March 2000, when Barbara Walters interviewed the parents of JonBenét Ramsey. And it’s the highest for any Friday non-sports broadcast on any network since 2003…” Roughly 68% of the 18-49 audience for the special was male.

The interview was also a very big topic of conversation on social media. According to Nielsen Social, “Bruce Jenner: The Interview” drew 972,000 tweets from 403,000 unique authors, ranking as the most social Friday telecast of all time, excluding sports.”

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the interview was not actually Bruce Jenner’s revelation that he was a transgender American but that he considers himself a conservative Republican.

“Are you a Republican?” Sawyer asked Jenner. “Yeah,” he responded. “Is that a bad thing?”

“Neither political party has a monopoly on understanding,” Jenner told Sawyer, who suggested the Olympian ask Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner for help championing the cause of the transgender community.

“I would do that in a heartbeat,” Jenner answered. “Yeah, why not?”

Bruce Jenner At least one Republican group was quick to reach out to Bruce Jenner. Log Cabin Republicans’ National Executive Director Gregory T. Angelo said: “As the nation’s only organization representing LGBT conservatives and straight allies, Log Cabin Republicans congratulates Bruce Jenner in the tremendous courage he demonstrated tonight, being true to himself both in terms of his personal identity as well as his political identity. There is a home for you in Log Cabin Republicans – as there is for all lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender conservatives and straight allies.”

While the immediate big story is Bruce Jenner’s revelations – both that he’s transgender and a conservative Republican – and the story to watch will be how the GOP grapples with the responsibilities and consequences of being a big tent political party, the immediate learning for all of us is the power of identifying, accepting, and promoting one’s authentic truth.

What Jenner has done, and what the viewing numbers for his 20/20 interview prove, is just how compelling and congruent speaking from the heart can be. And by setting the bar as high as the ones he jumped over in the 1976 Montreal Olympics, Jenner has courageously dared policymakers and marketers alike to be as open and honest as he has been. The power of Bruce Jenner’s statements came not because they were rehearsed but specifically because they weren’t. Bruce Jenner’s authentic truth, and the honest way he presented his truth, will change the world.

By | 2015-05-05T09:50:03+00:00 May 5th, 2015|28 Comments


  1. John Calia May 5, 2015 at 11:18 am - Reply

    I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for conservative Republicans to grapple with this issue. I suspect they’ll stay out of any dialogue that emerges from this event.

  2. Seth Berkowitz May 6, 2015 at 1:32 am - Reply

    The Republican Party and the Conservative movement are at a true crossroads now.

    Republicans have expended an enormous amount of energy and good will fighting back something that some of them must now realize is inevitable. The speed with which LBGT acceptance has grown in America over the past ten years is such that ten years from now all of this will be no big deal.

    But the Republicans have painted themselves into a corner. They advocate policies that favor the top 1% or at best the top 10%. If everybody voted their true self interest, the Repubs would lose every election in a landslide.

    To distract large swaths of middle and working class voters from economic issues, they make it all about social issues. They fight against marriage equality and woman’s right to choose, issues that help them win votes from a portion of America that is shrinking. Aging white Americans who are trying to hold onto an America they remember.

    They can keep appealing to those values and maybe that makes them competitive for the next few years. But at some point, they’ll be talking to people who aren’t drawn to their socially conservative agenda and who will realize they are suffering under GOP economic policy. It will be interesting to see if there is anybody on that side who has the foresight and courage to lead their party toward acceptance rather than pander to their prejudices.

  3. Amy Donner May 6, 2015 at 10:16 am - Reply

    Like everyone her party affiliation took me by surprise. The take away has to be that labels are useless. Namaste~

  4. Bart May 6, 2015 at 10:33 am - Reply

    I personally think it would be great to de-politicize the issue, but the onus is really on the GOP since they’ve been the ones who made political hay from it until recently when the polling data changed. Don’t forget they rode it to victory in 2004 by putting ballot measures up in swing states like Ohio.

    I applaude Jenner, but here’s the thing: he lives in a privileged bubble (I hate the world privilege but in his case its very true). He doesn’t have to worry about getting “trannybashed” when he goes on a date, or grabs a coffee, or is walking down the street. His blithe political declaration is fine but Sawyer should have asked some followups: do you support protections for transgendered people? Do you believe that businesses should be able to say they don’t want transgendered people to work for them? Refuse to serve them? If no, how do you square with your Republican beliefs? Will you lobby the party to change its outlook? And so on. A moment was missed.

  5. Bob Burg May 6, 2015 at 10:36 am - Reply

    Bruce, terrific article, as always. As I’ve learned from you, branding is always about the “other person.” Bruce Jenner shared information from his heart in such an authentic way that he made it, ultimately, not about himself but about the audience who was watching and listening.

    If I may ask a question and raise a point: You mentioned Mr. Jenner referring to himself as a “conservative republican.” I did not see the interview (apparently one of the few who did not) so I could totally be wrong about this. In none of the video clips did I notice the term “conservative” coming before “republican.” My feeling is that he is most likely, as many republicans are, “fiscally conservative” but not necessarily “socially conservative.”

    Being libertarian (fiscally conservative and socially liberal -believing in both free-markets and free minds) that is something that I would notice, of course. :-). I find it interesting that in a number of article I’ve heard it attributed that he is a “conservative republican.” I find that not all republicans are socially conservative. Practically all are *fiscally* conservative. Most of the republicans I know totally support choices such as Mr. Jenner’s as well as same-sex marriage.

    Anyway, just wondering about the “socially conservative” attribution. Again, I greatly enjoyed your article and look forward to posting it on Twitter.

    • Bruce Turkel May 6, 2015 at 11:34 am - Reply

      That’s great input, Bob. I’m sitting in an airport waiting to board a flight but will look back into the interview when I get some time and a robust Internet connection. Amazing the power one word can have, eh?

  6. Mace May 6, 2015 at 10:37 am - Reply

    Bruce, I had such a paradigm shift in my feelings about Bruce Jenner and transgender people. Where I used to see Jenner as just a weird celebrity former athlete, I now feel compassion and empathy for what he has been dealing with his entire life–of course, I can’t truly imagine. He has brought a previously non-discussed subject into the mainstream. I’m hoping this leads to increased acceptance of those who don’t fit society’s mold. I have a level of admiration for Bruce Jenner and his courageous disclosure that I never thought I could have. He’s probably making his chosen political party a bit uncomfortable by disclosing his affiliation, but let’s face it, they desperately need to change the way they are perceived. If Jenner were to throw his hat into the political ring right now, I’d vote for him–at least I would know that one guy is telling the truth.

  7. Marcelo Salup May 6, 2015 at 10:44 am - Reply

    There is the same mathematical probability of the core Republican backers — the christian fundamentalists, right wingers, super conversatives, etc.– to change their views on gay issues (and especially on gay marriage) as there is for a snowflake to survive in hell.

    What many people don’t want to understand is that, for that huge right wing fundamentalist mass, those beliefs are real. They really believe that “homosexuals” are sinners, twisted people, perpetually damned to fire and brimstone. They really do.

    To that solid belief add that Jenner will be famous for maybe another 30 minutes and you have a real non-issue.

  8. Bob Burg May 6, 2015 at 10:47 am - Reply

    P.S. Oh, if I was wrong and he did in fact refer to himself as a conservative republican than I will ask you, first, to forgive me, and secondly, to remember the words of the always-eloquent 1970’s philosopher, Ms. Emily LiTella……”Never Mind!”

  9. Jane Carrie May 6, 2015 at 10:54 am - Reply

    Excellent article and I love the fact that you chose to write about such a controversial topic. This is why you are such a huge success.

  10. Michael Donovan May 6, 2015 at 12:11 pm - Reply

    I see both parties simply as coalitions. The following is oversimplified, and there are plenty of exceptions of course, but I see the Democrats are a coalition of working people, organized labor, the poor, minority groups, environmentalists, and various, and often secular, limousine liberals. Millions of them.

    The Republicans are, lets just say, a coalition of air and water polluters, big pharma, big oil and big banks, but how many ballots can that those rich, old, white guys cast? So, they’ve had to invite people like the NRA into the tent, whose members might prefer clean air and water and affordable drugs if they thought about it, but happy enough to have big business (which cares little about guns) carry their water in the cause of freedom from gun controls. But they’re STILL outnumbered, so let’s see, who else can they invite?

    Well, there are a lot of religious fundamentalists around, and lots of them fear or loathe homosexuals, and who’s looking out for THEM? They don’t have a party to call their own … lets invite them!

    So, the Republicans are stuck with them, now more than ever, as as the numbers of poor, working people and Hispanics grow faster than the numbers of rich, old, white homophobes.

    Seth Berkowitz is correct. They really ARE in a corner.

  11. Bart May 6, 2015 at 12:25 pm - Reply

    By the way, I (and some others) refer to Jenner as he above, I see Amy referred to Jenner as she. I think Amy would be right generally, since most transitioning people want to use the new gender pronouns and it is often considered a bit of a slur to use the old one, but my understanding is that Jenner wants to continue to use Bruce and male pronouns for now.

    • Bruce Turkel May 6, 2015 at 1:45 pm - Reply

      I did a little reading before I chose the pronouns to use when discussing Jenner. According to the New York Times, Jenner has not requested the use of female pronouns and so the paper writes about him with male pronouns. As transgender issues become more and more mainstream and part of the public conversation, it will be interesting to see how people choose to discuss themselves and others.
      As marketers it will be important for us to understand not the political correctness of the issue but the simple ways to best communicate with the people who are buying our products and services.

  12. Mike Johnson May 6, 2015 at 12:30 pm - Reply

    To call Jenner’s branding move “heroism” is to redefine heroism, and for that matter, truth. What we are calling “Bruce Jenner’s authentic truth” and “his truth” (why not “her” truth?) here reflects a self-defeating relativistic view of truth that doesn’t correspond to objective reality. But these days and in these liberal circles it’s considered heroic. If someone were to proclaim the longstanding truth that a person’s gender identity is rooted not in how we feel like expressing it, but in their created sex as a male or female—that who we are supersedes what we feel—that would not be viewed as truth or heroism.

    At the outset, this seems an odd fit for a blog about branding, which is about creating a name and an image. But then again, Bruce Jenner is branding himself. A brand hopefully reflects some amount of truth, but it doesn’t have to. It’s purpose is to create something that will sell.

  13. Alan Schutte May 6, 2015 at 12:32 pm - Reply

    My teenage daughter was totally thrown by the fact that Bruce identifies as a woman but still likes girls. Does that make him a lesbian? She asked me. Now you know thats some good honest speaking when even the teenagers stop for a moment to ponder something an adult says.

  14. Bob Burg May 6, 2015 at 1:09 pm - Reply

    Thank you, Bruce. Travel safely, my great friend and brother!

  15. mike May 6, 2015 at 2:02 pm - Reply

    having worked in entertainment and journalism and advertising for a long time to me this is a great way to promote his next tv show with the same appeal as his other shows–let’s all watch a freak. i don’t think anyone is going to be enlightenend about transgender etc. and i don’t think he is not sincerely trans.

  16. Laurie Allen May 6, 2015 at 2:28 pm - Reply

    “Change the world” from your blog to God’s ears.

    FYI took 10 times to enter this due to code*

  17. Marissa Harvey May 6, 2015 at 6:50 pm - Reply

    As the wife of a conservative republican, I can tell you that many conservative republicans support the GLBT community and Gay marriage. In fact Dick Chaney (the conservative most reviled by the liberal community) is a staunch supporter of Gay marriage and many GLBT issues….I think anyone who knows or loves a member of the GLBT community, they immediately understand their perspective….it’s a no-brainer. Bruce Jenner was my hero growing up….now he is a hero to me once again.

  18. Stephanie Battaglino May 6, 2015 at 10:51 pm - Reply

    Bruce – Thank you so very much for your sensitive and thoughtful words. I was grateful – and honored – to serve as a consultant to Diane and her team on the show, and when we all huddled together at the ABC studios the Tuesday before the show aired to screen the piece I can honestly say that every person in the room, most of all Diane, wanted the finished product to be an honest and non-sensationalistic portrayal. As the only trans person in the room I can honestly say that my opinions and my personal perspectives on Bruce’s and my own journey were sincerely taken to heart and in so many ways, honored.

    I am deeply touched to know that the show has brought so many people that otherwise might not ever have discussed what it means to be transgender or gender non-conforming into the conversation. The narrative has been expanded with more voices than ever before – and on behalf of the community I am very proud to be a part of, I say that’s a very good thing indeed.

  19. Clay Goldstein May 7, 2015 at 6:53 am - Reply

    Some good comment/questions on the political labeling front. Bob, whether he said “conservative” or not you bring up good points. Jenner shared his political “label” as an introspective person.not as a representative so might not have been looking at the nuance you recognized. The interviewer did miss an opportunity to shed light on political gray areas often missed by our desire to lump people into groups so their ideas can be easily demeaned and dismissed. Finally, Bruce recognized the power of a single word, especially when the speaker might not realize it and its importance when writing/communicating with intention.

  20. Bob Burg May 7, 2015 at 8:48 am - Reply

    Clay, thank you. I appreciate your kind words and insightful comments.

  21. Bob Burg May 7, 2015 at 9:03 am - Reply

    Stephanie, commenting on what you wrote: the teenaged “daughter” of some dear friends of ours was suffering from a long-term, ongoing case of deep depression. She finally told her Parents the issue; that she knew she was male. (On a personal note, having dinner with the family one night her sense of despair was so overwhelming it was absolutely heartbreaking.) How fortunate that she has loving Parents whose only concern was the happiness and well-being of their child. Finally, truly understanding the situation, and after research and consultation, they went into action. The (formerly) daughter immediately assumed the male gender (including a new first name) and the school was wonderful about it. *He* now had both a Family and social (i.e., school and friends) support system in place. As a male, he is absolutely thriving. Very inspiring!

  22. Shai Gold May 9, 2015 at 11:10 am - Reply

    I watched the interview out of sheer respect for the courage of Mr / Ms. Jenner. The candid interview served as an important social test for a nation’s adoration of a favorite son. Accepting the way of life, as disagreeable as it may be is a classic family dilema and a true test of unconditional love. On balance, it was as positive as it could have been. I believe the interview advanced the cause of the transgender community by light years.

  23. CR Weylman May 9, 2015 at 11:16 am - Reply

    It is unfortunate Bruce that you chose to use and assign the word conservative when describing Jenner”s Republicanism.
    It is also unfortunate that given this and other recent blog posts here,IE: candidate brands, a bias against or for certain candidates is becoming apparent .
    As a result these postings have resulted in political rants and rages on this blog.It is unfortunate indeed. And Bob your original post here was excellent, however don’t bow to the political correctness or other views posted here to feel you have to ask forgiveness. Mr.Turkel can we please get back to branding discussions?

  24. Jill Stone May 9, 2015 at 12:46 pm - Reply

    Bruce, this interview and topic continues to attract so much attention. Curious, how was your click-through rate on this blog relative to others?

    • Bruce Turkel May 11, 2015 at 9:56 am - Reply

      Good question, Jill. The responses were pretty numerous — 25 on the blog when I wrote this reply and about twice as many that came in as direct emails. I would have thought that such a controversial and popular issue would have actually generated more commentary but I guess people have lots of places to discuss their opinion of Jenner and his revelation.

  25. DR May 11, 2015 at 11:16 am - Reply

    Anything connected with Kardashians is for ratings and money. Don’t be surprised if he decides next year that this transgender idea was a mistake.

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