There has been so much talk in recent months about the seemingly changing appearance of Bruce Jenner, the Olympic champion once dubbed the greatest athlete in the world.

Sadly, much of the chatter has been ridiculing Jenner for the former athlete's appearance. For so many, the image of a strong, masculine, world-class athlete transitioning into a persona wearing long hair and earrings is too much to handle. The focus for these people is what's on the outside, not the courageous soul on the inside.

It's in part because of all that that makes me proud of Jenner. Coming out as a gay man wasn't easy for me. It's often difficult for anyone who walks that path (though, as the saying goes, it does get better quickly). Coming out as transgender? Transitioning to your true gender as a public figure? I don't think anyone can fully understand what that is like except for those trans people who have considered or walked through their own transition.

When I see the nasty comments about Jenner's appearance I always harken back to Christine Daniels, the Los Angeles Times sportswriter who transitioned very publicly while in a marriage to another woman. Daniels was never happier until she transitioned. Yet that happiness eroded as she faced someone in the mirror who was never going to truly look the way she wanted to look. Eventually, after transitioning back to a man, she took her own life.

Daniels was so happy after her public transition, even blogging about it for the LA Times, writing about the acceptance she received from many in the world of sports. However her marriage disintegrated, and it was rumored that her family was not accepting. After struggling with depression, she made a short attempt to return to living as man – a reality she knew wasn't true – before eventually taking her own life. Studies have shown that 41% of transgender people attempt suicide – largely because the stresses of being transgender in a world that doesn't accept gender difference.

I hope Jenner is surrounded by nothing but love and support. Trans people need that desperately as they make some big changes in their lives. My headline for this piece reflects Jenner's request that his name and pronouns not be changed at this time. I hope nothing I wrote in this piece is remotely offensive to anyone in the trans community. My complete desire is to help.

The trans people in my life – Christina Kahrl, Fallon Fox, Chris Mosier, Kye Allums, Corey Oskam – and so many others have given me such appreciation not just for the "T" in LGBT, but for humanity in general. These are incredible people from whom we could all take lessons about courage and strength.

Now that Jenner has chosen to make a transition public, I'm so happy and proud to add another person to the list.

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