St. Petersburg, FL – In April, Bruce Jenner revealed to the world that she was transgender and spoke about her transition from male to female. Vanity Fair's new cover continues that conversation by introducing that woman, Caitlyn Jenner. Her public transition is helping many in the transgender community in Tampa Bay.
"When we're talking about things it is always good because it's leading to conversation which if we can change one person's opinion then we've made our change," said Ashley Brundage.
Brundage understands what Jenner is going through. After living more than 30 years as Todd, she transitioned in 2010. "Every day was a constant struggle for me because I didn't understand really what was wrong and why I felt the way I felt."
Brundage is now an outspoken advocate for transgender equality and education in the Bay area. She says seeing Jenner share her story is empowering.
Chris Rudisill agrees. He serves as the director of LGBT services for Metro Wellness and Community Centers. The organization provides a number of services to the transgender community in Tampa Bay. Rudisill says since Jenner went public, they've been inundated with calls from both the young and old.
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He says those in the transgender community still battle a number of issues like workplace discrimination. He believes Jenner's story is opening the dialogue to acceptance and change. "There's still those equality issues that we have got to address so that people can be their authentic self and live happily and healthily that's what everyone deserves," said Rudisill.
Brundage says one thing people need to understand about Jenner's gender transition: it didn't happen overnight. "It's not a phase. It's not a stint. It's an opportunity for someone to be their true authentic self and we should celebrate them."
Jenner has not yet had gender reassignment surgery. That, other surgeries and hormone therapy can be expensive. Insurance sometimes will cover the procedure and hormone therapy, but not always. Metro Wellness will soon offer hormone therapy at its centers in Tampa and St. Petersburg.
For more information on the services available to the transgender community, click here.