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Buzz Bissinger, Classic ‘He Said, She Said’

Buzz Bissinger interview

What is it like to meet the man who wrote the Caitlyn Jenner cover story?

I'm not going to lie, I was pretty anxious to speak to Pulitzer Prize-winning author and Vanity Fair contributing editor Buzz Bissinger this week. Aside from an impressive career that includes writing a book about my home state's football obsession--Go Panthers!--he was tasked with introducing us to the world's most famous transgender person in a way that appeased the skeptics, wowed the curious, educated the stubborn, and celebrated the marginalized.

Buzz Bissinger's name appears on, what I now consider to be, one of the most iconic magazine covers of our time--albeit smaller than the LGBT community's star-of-the-hour, and rightfully so. There's no denying that this is Caitlyn Jenner's moment, one that's been 65 years in the making. But, that moment needed guidance, understanding, compassion, and, ultimately, an outlet.

RELATED | 5 Things We Learned From Caitlyn Jenner's Vanity Fair Interview

Calling Bissinger to talk about his cover piece essentially brought me one step closer to the entertainment figure I shame-watched on E!, cried with on ABC, and admired on the cover of Vanity Fair. But that figure's evolution through each of those media depictions is part of the story that Bissinger now needed to share.

Within the first few minutes of our chat, which you can find below, Bissinger talked about how both his sports background and penchant for cross-dressing made him the prime interviewer, though he was quick to distinguish his form of gender expression with Caitlyn's. By the way, in case the most recent generations have forgotten amid the tabloid covers and "Kardashian kalamity," Caitlyn, formerly Bruce, is an Olympic gold medalist and renowned sports hero who will be honored with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at this year's ESPYs.

"When I went to approach this story, I said to myself, 'I need to be open-minded,' which I was, 'I need to be caring,' which I was, 'and the one thing I will not do in the story,' and did not do, 'is to be snarky or half-assed or mean-spirited or trying to get in little zingers here and there,'" Bissinger said. He noted, though, the importance of including humor in his article, even making it a point to highlight both his and Caitlyn's missteps with regards to gender pronouns.

According to Bissinger, Caitlyn said she's still scared about the overall reaction to her coming out, a feeling that is completely warranted, though many will assume Caitlyn's social media domination this week is evidence of a case-closed scenario with regards to full acceptance. There's also the fact, which he acknowledged, that Caitlyn's situation is atypical to the everyday struggles of most transgender Americans, those who have yet to feel the so-called "Transgender Tipping Point," declared by Time magazine last year.

Yet that doesn't detract from what Bissinger calls the "tragedy" of Caitlyn Jenner, a life narrative that, as of right now, consists of a beautiful Annie Leibovitz cover, an 11-thousand word expose, and a classic case of "he said, she said."

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff and Wayne Brady

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Xorje Olivares