By Jillian Page
LGBT Perspectives editor
QUEBEC — Comedian Bill Burr is under fire from many trans people on social media for his comments about Caitlyn Jenner on Conan O’Brian’s late-night gab fest on Thursday.
It seems Bill shared his feelings about “Bruce’s” transition to Caitlyn:
“When Bruce became Caitlyn that was a national news story at a ridiculous level. There’s baby seals washing up on the beach because there’s no fish left and they’re talking — and this lady, you know, like, oh, Bruce, can your Olympic back handle a D-cup — D cup or are you going to go with something a little more perky?
“I’m not being a jerk. I’m not saying that in any bad way. I’m just saying I miss that guy. I miss him already. He should have told us. He should have given us a chance to say goodbye. I watched him on the Olympics. I watched him on “Chips.” I watched him on that horrible show my wife watched where he just walks around in the background. nobody listened to him. It was so sad. I don’t know, out of nowhere.
“Then you couldn’t react — you couldn’t on any level be like, ‘oh, my god, what the -f,’ on any level. You couldn’t say that or you’re automatically homophobic. I didn’t hear your inner thoughts. I didn’t know what you were doing. You shaved your beard off, people are like, ‘that’s your chin?’ Wow. This dude came back a woman. He said he was Caitlyn. ‘So, uh, the housing crisis, the bubble.’ God bless him — God bless her, sorry. They really freak out about the pronouns too. Sorry.” — as reported on the Sports Grid site
Well, actually, Bruce did signal his intention in the Diane Sawyer coming-out interview — and I use male name and pronouns in this particular sentence because in that interview, Bruce told everybody to keep using them for a while, thus confusing the heck out of millions of people right from the start. (I wrote about it in my now-defunct newspaper blog.)
In a good piece of writing on the Sports Grid site, Jake O’Donnell points out that people shouldn’t be taking Bill’s comments quite so superficially, that he was, in fact, making a deeper commentary on the way the media have slobbered all over Caitlyn Jenner and how very many commonfolk have been personally affected by all the Caitlyn news that has been in their faces everywhere they turn these days.
Says Jake: “Burr was channeling a big chunk of Americans who don’t have the life experience/grey matter to wrap their heads around gender dysphoria, giving them a reason to listen to a discussion about it without vomiting in protest because it’s spoken in hyper-progressive jargon concocted in a dorm room at Oberlin. If you want more people’s hearts and minds to change — especially in regards to unfair perceptions about the transgendered community — at some point you’re going to have to concede that someone will have to engage them using familiar language.”
I’d like to add another point: Caitlyn Jenner deliberately made her transition very public. She wanted to be in the limelight, she wanted to profit from it, and she wanted to start a discussion about transgender issues.
And, indeed, she has accomplished that — for better and for worse.
If you are going make yourself the centre of attention and encourage everyone to talk about you, you cannot control what they say. You cannot tell them that they aren’t allowed to say how the news affects them, how they feel about it.
The reality is, the majority of people do not understand transgenderism, and many are uncomfortable with it. Many simply do not accept it, and some of them are downright transphobic. Bill Burr, it would seem, was trying to reach out in his own way to all of them, to show he shares some of their feelings about the “loss of Bruce” while at the same time criticizing the media for its over-the-top coverage of every breath Caitlyn takes.
I’m with Jake O’Donnell on this one. Bill Burr is innocent.
“Let harmlessness be the keynote of your life.” — Alice Bailey