Best-selling author, journalist, and transgender advocate Janet Mock has a few words for the editors of In Touch Weekly, whose latest cover features a poorly Photoshopped image of former Olympian Bruce Jenner "as a woman."
Calling the cover, which proclaims to tell "Bruce's story" but includes no quotes from Jenner or anyone directly related to him, "shockingly insensitive, sensational, and inaccurate," Mock expertly tears down the reasons the cover is not only problematic, but downright transphobic.
"Let's be clear: This is not Jenner's story," Mock says. "Jenner has not stepped forward as a woman or uttered a word about being transgender. What is true is that the story is pure speculation. The kind of tabloid gossip I'm guilty of laughing at while getting a pedicure."
Noting that the InTouch Weekly cover "is the latest in a long line of public speculation about the Olympian's gender identity," Mock calls out such speculation for what it is:
"The Jenner gender speculation is a modern-day freak show," Mock says pointedly, staring directly into the camera. "It spreads the misconception that being trans is laughable. By publishing this cover, In Touch Weekly tells its 400,000 readers that it is acceptable to assume someone's gender, scrutinize their body, and publicly shame them in the process.
"It's this destructive thinking that pushes trans people deeper into isolation," Mock continues, noting that the same thinking leads attackers to attempt to justify their violent assaults on transgender women, which disproportionately affect trans women of color.
And then, as Mock so often does, she ties the conceptual critique back to its real-world implications, referencing the recent suicide of transgender teen Leelah Alcorn in Ohio. "It's this thinking that convinces a 17-year-old girl that her only option for peace is to leap in front of a truck."
Concluding that "wearing pink nail polish and getting a blow-out does not make someone trans," Mock plainly asserts that there is "absolutely nothing is wrong, or laughable, about being trans."
"What's wrong is a magazine aiming to humiliate someone by labeling them a transgender woman, as if being trans and being a woman is an insult," she concludes. "Here's a headline: Bruce Jenner is whoever Bruce Jenner says he is."