Local Transgender Activist Sees Hope In Jenner Interview

Local Transgender Activist Sees Hope In Jenner Interview

9:29am Apr 30, 2015
Liam Hooper
Paul Garber

The ratings are in and the ABC interview with Bruce Jenner about his transition to a woman was the highest-rated television show of last week. Among those watching was Liam Hooper.

Hooper is about to graduate from Wake Forest Divinity School. He’s also a transgender man. As a child he was known as “Lisa” but began to transition a few years ago after decades of identifying as a man. He’s now a trans activist.

Hooper spoke with WFDD’s Paul Garber about the Jenner interivew and what it means for the transgender community. Hooper says Jenner should have been allowed to transition privately. But he says now that the story has become mainstream, it could be an important moment for understanding.

"I think it helps," he says.

Hooper grew up in the 1960s and knew as a child that he didn't feel like a girl. He was taken to a psychiatrist, who told him he'd never be a boy, and was put on medication.

That gave him the feeling that everything about him was wrong. As he explains, it wasn't until he was in his late 40s that he decided he had to make the transition.

"It's been the best thing I ever did," he says.

He says high-profile cases like Chaz Bono and Bruce Jenner gives him hope that fewer transgender children will have to grow up like he did. He's already seeing signs of change.

He says now we need to move past the idea that being transgender is a mental illness before steps can be taken to help people who have those feelings. 

“That will be sort of the last frontier of real positive and meaningful change, but where we can still become who we are,” he says.

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