Back in the 1970s, Olympic decathlon champion Bruce Jenner helped to define American masculinity, taking the title of "world's greatest athlete" from a defending Soviet champion in a world-record performance. In the 21st century, he is the most famous person in the world to transition publicly from male to female. "He is finally happy," proclaims People magazine, which spoke to sources close to Jenner and his extended reality TV family, the Kardashians.
In my latest Daily Beast column, I ask:
Is there any greater story about the American Dream—so bruised and battered in this godawful 21st century—than Bruce Jenner becoming a woman?
Since at least the days of Benjamin Franklin, we Americans have prided ourselves on being a chosen race for whom birth doesn't equal destiny. As Walt Disney used to say, "If you can dream it, you can do it." It's safe to say that neither old Ben nor super-chilled Walt could possibly grok the 1976 Olympic Decathlon gold medalist's decision to change from he to she, but they don't have to. Nobody does, really, except Jenner himself and those closest to him. Which is another goddamned great thing about America.