Trans activists are frustrated by the latest issue of tabloid InTouch Weekly, which placed an evidently Photoshopped image of Bruce Jenner on its cover, along with the headline "Bruce's Story: My Life as a Woman."
The magazine, now hitting supermarkets everywhere, also falsely claims that the former Olympian plans to come out as a transgender woman in a future issue of The Advocate.
Entertainment blog Hollywood Life published a photo of the cover, which features an obviously doctored image of Jenner with lipstick and blush. The site also claims it spoke with an "Advocate insider" who said "we would love to cover the story."
"I’m astounded that Bonnie Fuller’s Hollywood Life would claim to have ‘all the details’ on Bruce Jenner’s ‘big magazine plans’ because their story is a total fabrication — like InTouch’s distressing Photoshopped cover," said Matthew Breen, editor in chief of The Advocate. "Neither publication has any insider source with knowledge of The Advocate's planned coverage."
Representatives from Bauer, the company that owns InTouch Weekly, told The Advocate they had no comment.
Transgender pioneer Kate Bornstein, author of the groundbreaking book Gender Outlaw, was outraged by InTouch's treatment of Jenner, and issued an in-depth statement to The Advocate via email Wednesday night.
"Damn it," Bernstein wrote in all-caps. "Bruce Jenner is being bullied, and publicly shamed for no other reason than being trans. I'm so sorry for B.J."
"That anybody is still trying to 'shock' people about transgender people is really sad," Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, told The Advocate on the phone Wednesday night.
Like a lot of trans people, Keisling expressed disappointment in the magazine's presentation, while keeping her distance and emphasizing she has no inside knowledge of Jenner's gender identity or if the cover photo has been doctored. "With all of the progress that we've made in culture and in policy, that someone thinks they can shock people by this is just really troubling."
YouTube sensation and transgender woman Gigi Gorgeous agreed. "It’s always sad to see the media alter images of someone in the public eye," Gorgeous told The Advocate via email. "Until Bruce chooses to share his story — whatever it is — it's no one's business. Being transgender is not a joke or something to poke fun at."
"I guess this story confirms all the stereotypes of tabloid magazines being full of fabrications," said transgender model and advocate Carmen Carerra on her Facebook page Thursday. "I seriously cannot even begin to explain all the ways this is wrong. From photoshopping his face on a woman's body, to selling into the idea that it's a 'shock' to be trans, or even putting him out there like that. It's just adding to the transphobia in mass media. Let him live and if any of this is true, shouldn't he have a say?"
Bamby Salcedo, a legendary trans activist and president of the TransLatin@ Coalition, told The Advocate she hopes that In Touch’s tasteless cover offer the community a chance to "look at the bigger picture as to why people choose not to live themselves authentically — and that is because of societal constructs."
"The fact [is] that Bruce's experience is consistent of many trans women who are not of 'color,'" she continued. "The experiences of people of color are different. In some ways, you can say that we are more bold when we decide to let the world know who we truly are. It is known that the 'coming out' experiences of many trans women who are Caucasian, [allow them to] wait until they have formed careers, families and wealth, and in some ways make their transition process a little better, because they are able to afford the transition-related procedures."
"Although I can imagine how hard it would be for these women coming out to wives, sons and daughters," Salcedo points to a remark made by a young trans person in the documentary she produced called Unheard Voices of Transgender Youth. "Being a transexual you have to make a lot of sacrifices, and one of those will be your love life," the young person says in the film. "In this case, your love could be your family, or those who are close to you, because they don’t understand who we are."
Even Jenner's ex-wife, Kris Jenner, lambasted the tabloid for speculating about her former spouse's gender identity. TMZ is reporting that Kris Jenner is telling friends that "it's just mean to do, whether or not it's true."
BuzzFeed reports that the image is more than just a sloppy Photoshop job: it's actually an image of British actress Stephanie Beacham superimposed onto Jenner's face. The side-by-side comparison seems to affirm BuzzFeed's theory:
Calling the image "unreal," athlete Chris Mosier, founder of TransAthlete.com, says the cover is "just plain offensive — both that they printed it and that there's clearly a market for it."
"By saying Bruce Jenner is transitioning, the In Touch cover story and image supports and maintains a dangerous environment for transgender people — particularly transgender women, who already experience violence at an alarming rate," added Mosier in an email to The Advocate.
"I think it's so wrong in so many ways for them to poke fun and do such things to someone … they know nothing about just to make money and make a mockery of trans people everywhere," Monica Beverly Hillz, a trans woman and former contestant on RuPaul's Drag Race, told The Advocate via email. "They need to educate instead of just doing nonsense like that."
Jenner's gender identity has been a hot topic of speculation for gossip sites for the past several years, though Jenner has never addressed the rumors.
And the magazine's decision to Photoshop Jenner's image for its cover is "too far," said transgender media maven and writer B. Scott.
"Since Bruce Jenner IS a celebrity and constantly photographed, we’ve witnessed over the last few months how he’s been experimenting with his appearance — but he has every right to do so," Scott wrote in a Tuesday blog post. "Bruce also has a right to exist however he wants to without some magazine transforming him into someone else to fit their narrative.
"If Bruce was out and about wearing makeup, we’d see it," concludes Scott. "However, he’s not (at this point) and we should respect that."
Mainstream women's magazine Cosmopolitan goes even further, calling the InTouch cover "bullshit."
"What the cover boils down to is rank, sensationalized transphobia and gleeful bullying," Cosmopolitan's Alex Reed wrote Wednesday afternoon.
"This nonsense has to end," said GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis in a statement. "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. It’s long past time that media outlets stop gossiping about Bruce Jenner’s gender."
And as NCTE's Kiesling noted that the long history of speculation about Jenner's identity means that were Jenner to come out as trans, "it certainly wouldn't be shocking."
"But if the [rumors] were false, it also wouldn't be shocking with bad journalism like this from InTouch magazine. They're still trying to tell everyone … that there's something horrible about this, and there's just not."
Calls and emails seeking comment from InTouch Weekly received no response as of press time.
Read transgender pioneer Kate Bornstein's full statement on the next page.>>>
Kate Bornstein's statement to The Advocate regarding InTouch Weekly's cover depicting Bruce Jenner as a woman:
DAMN IT. BRUCE JENNER IS BEING BULLIED, AND PUBLICLY SHAMED FOR NO OTHER REASON THAN BEING TRANS. I'm so sorry for B.J.
It's built in to transphobia, this idea that Trans is something to be ashamed of — that we can be humiliated, blackmailed even, at the mere whisper of our name — that even the sweetest of us is a bad, bad, person who can be made fun of. THERE'S NO TRUTH TO THIS. And I think that as more and more of us discover that trans is nothing to be ashamed of, the more difficult it's going to be for bullies to get people to believe their slander and lies.
And I think it's important at this time of our hurt, to pull back and take the POV that trans folk are one of many culturally vulnerable bully targets of In Touch Weekly, and other bullies. Speaking as an elder, my request to our Trans leaders is this:
Trans has got some cultural traction now, more than a lot of other marginalized groups who are being bullied by In Touch Weekly, and others of its ilk. So IN ADDITION TO WHATEVER ELSE YOU DO IN RESPONSE TO THE BULLY, IN TOUCH WEEKLY, please also take this time to reach out with compassion, and in coalition to others being bullied in these and other pages. We'll all be stronger for it.
With love and respect to my Trans family,
and those who wish us well,
and wishes of peace and comfort for BJ,