Couldn't find stronger icon than Bruce Jenner, transgender activist says
Winnipeg's Ro Walker says support of Jenner's entourage also offers hope to transgender community
Bruce Jenner is quickly becoming an icon not just in sport, but in the transgender community, and a Winnipeg activist says he can't think of anyone better suited to fill that role.
Ro Walker, a transgender man and hip-hop artist, said it is great that Jenner — the 1976 U.S. Olympic decathlon champion who has been better known in recent years as part of television's omnipresent Kardashian family — can serve as a role model and activist, especially to a generation that might be less comfortable with it.
"An Olympian, a great icon, really, in America and for my parents' generation to relate to," Walker said on CBC's Up to Speed on Monday.
Walker added that how Jenner's children react could also set the trend for how people think about transgender transitions.
In a sit-down interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer on Friday, Jenner opened up about his gender identity, saying, "For all intents and purposes, I am a woman."
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"I am me and I am a person," he said in the interview, although Jenner prefers to stick to male pronouns for the time being.
At 65, Jenner's gender identity has been subject to a great deal of speculation over the past months.
While Walker is clear that he thinks the invasion of privacy is reprehensible, he is happy to see it has started a more global conversation.
"It doesn't really matter who you are or what your gender is, you can still kick ass. And that really resounded with me because we come from all walks of life, just like everyone else," Walker said.
"Trans people, maybe the only thing we have in common is our gender identity or our transition, so I just think it's really great to see a pop culture icon really coming through from the community and sharing their truth."
On a more personal note, Walker said he is particularly appreciative of how accepting Kanye West has been of Jenner.
"I'm a local Winnipeg boy, but I'm also a hip-hop artist here, so I'm trying to break down those borders as well," he said.
Walker said he feels more accepted than before now that he is further along in his transition, with more than three years on hormones and having undergone top surgery, but there's still a great deal of room for improvement for society-wide acceptance.
"What I'm doing is going to make a difference," Jenner said in Friday's interview, "and we're going to change the world."
Walker agrees: "I couldn't think of a stronger icon," he said. "I'm team Bruce all the way."
With files from The Associated Press