5 questions transgender woman wants Bruce Jenner to answer

JJ Marie Gufreda is a transgender woman who is married with three children and three grandchildren. She hopes to hear the real story behind ABC’s much-anticipated interview with Bruce Jenner.

Photo credit: Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS (MEDIA GENERAL) – Anticipation surrounding Friday night’s television special titled simply “Bruce Jenner: The Interview” continues to grow. And, secrecy surrounding the interview remains even at this late hour. Despite rampant speculation, neither ABC nor Bruce Jenner has said that he will reveal his gender transition Friday night.

Telling Your Own Story

JJ Marie Gufreda
JJ Marie Gufreda

JJ Marie Gufreda says she may know why. Gufreda was born a boy in a Catholic, Italian household. As a young boy, she was always interested in girls’ things, but never knew transgender people existed or considered becoming one. It wasn’t until her wife was pregnant with their second child that she admitted her desire to be a woman.

She began to cross-dress and feel more comfortable in her own skin. But, the idea that she would come out to the world still seemed very far away. She said it would take her hours to plan to go outside and get the garbage at 1 a.m. because then she could be herself without the world seeing her.

“I was very worried that someone would see me before I was ready to tell them. From my experience, I wouldn’t be surprised if he (Jenner) didn’t want people to see him until he was ready,” said Gufreda.

Gufreda remembers the exact date she started living openly as a woman, Christmas Day 2007. She remains married and has been for 35 years, has three kids and three grandchildren. She’s written a book about her journey, “Left Hander in London,” performs in a one woman show, and is president of the Indianapolis Rainbow Chamber of Commerce.

Bruce Jenner: The Interview

Gufreda said she’s too old now to care much about celebrities. But, she does know that celebrities have a powerful platform.

“Celebrity in the United States is a really powerful thing to get people’s attention,” Gufreda said. She hopes people will look past the sensational parts of the interview like what Jenner sounds like or looks like and have some empathy for him.

“It’s hard to go from being the best male athlete on Earth to transitioning,” Gufreda said. Jenner became world famous and known as the world’s best athlete in 1976 when he won Olympic gold in the decathlon. Gufreda said a lot of transgender people she knows overcompensated for their gender issues by pushing themselves physically.

Gufreda said she really hopes Jenner answers some deeper questions Friday night;

  • When did he know he wanted to transition?
  • How did he hold it in for so long?
  • How is he? How are his relationships with those around him?
  • How is it coming out in front of the whole world?
  • What’s it like going out in public?

That last one might be challenging. Jenner’s been avoiding the public eye ever since the ABC interview was announced.

Gufreda said there is a big difference between most transgender people and Jenner. She said she had to worry about how she would make a living once she came out. Would her clients still accept her as a woman? Could she still pay the bills? Jenner is unlikely to have that problem.

As for why it may have taken so long to come out, Gufreda said she can understand. She said it’s common for people not to understand what’s going on with themselves, and once they do, another major challenge remains, how to get where they want to be. For her, it was a difficult and important journey.

“Not having to hide, being able to be myself, it’s just so much better,” Gufreda said. Now, her grandchildren call her “Nonna” and they don’t know her as anyone else. She said she lost some long-time friends and some clients along the way. But, she gained new friends and new clients.

She hopes Jenner’s interview will bring attention to an issue close to her heart.

“People that are transgender that are famous, it helps get the word out. I do think it’s good to shine the light on the subject,” said Gufreda.

The Bruce Jenner interview airs Friday on ABC from 9-11 p.m. EST.

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