Yesterday, In Touch magazine released a cover featuring Bruce Jenner photoshopped as a woman. The headline, “Bruce’s Story: My Life As a Woman," is pure tabloid bait: What did he tell his family? Why is Kris Jenner panicking? What “shocking” photos await readers? Open up and find out.
Or don’t — because the In Touch story is badly sourced, offensive and transphobic. They relied on an anonymous tipper and did a very sloppy job of photoshopping Jenner’s face on top of British actress Stephanie Beacham. But beyond that, it’s not just sensationalism, it’s bullying. Kris Jenner summed it up when she said “It’s just mean.” In Touch has proven itself, once again, to be completely out of touch.
Speculating over Jenner’s (or anyone's) gender identity is low — and it’s socially irresponsible considering the triumphs the transgender community has made over the past year. “This nonsense has to end," GLAAD’s president Sarah Kate Ellis said. “Speculating about a person’s gender identity only inflames the invasive and gross scrutiny that transgender people face every day at school, at work, or even when just walking down the street."
Mara Keisling, the National Center for Transgender Equality’s executive director, told The Advocate it’s “really sad” and “troubling”.
Since Jenner is a public persona, we’ve seen him change over the past year, but there are two things worth repeating. First: All we know from the times he has stepped out with a manicure and his hair pulled back in a pony tail is that he likes presenting himself that way. We can't assume (nor should we) anything about his gender identification from some painted nails. Second: Even if Jenner were transitioning or planning on it, this would be an entirely private matter, and outing him in any way would be shameful.
Last year, TIME said we had reached a tipping point in trans* awareness. Transparent’s win at the Golden Globes shows that the transgender community has, indeed, tipped over and spilled into the national conversation. It shouldn’t matter what Bruce Jenner is doing and how he’s presenting himself. His friends have said that “he doesn’t even pay attention to this stuff.”
Perhaps it’s time we didn’t either.