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Bruce Jenner: Call Me 'He' ...For Now

Bruce Jenner: Call Me 'He' ...For Now


The Advocate has learned Bruce Jenner is preparing to announce a change in pronouns after coming out as transgender.

"I'm a woman," is what he said.

The "he," of course, is Bruce Jenner.

But is "he" the correct pronoun? What is the "right" choice to refer to the former Olympian turned reality star and newly-minted official member of the LGBT community?

He? Him? She? Her? They? Ze? Zir?

No less than The New York Times admitted Wednesday that even the newspaper famous for all the news that's fit to print has struggled with this question: what do you call someone who was assigned male at birth, who declared he's transgender on national television to 17 million viewers, but who also asked the producers and consultants on that program to continue to refer to him with male pronouns for the duration of that interview?

By the time the intensive, two-hour educational spectacle was nearly finished, even host Diane Sawyer started to mix things up by referring to Jenner as "she."

So, with the show in the can and nearly a week having passed since the broadcast, what are anxious allies, frustrated fans and jaded journalists to do?

Tonight, The Advocate has official word from writer, professor and Jenner consultant and confidante, Jennifer Finney Boylan, that right now, Jenner himself prefers to be called "Bruce," "he" and "him."

Boylan tells The Advocate, "New name and pronouns [are] coming, but not in the next week or two I don't think."

The Times told its online readers today, "We managed to stir up a little controversy this week with an item we published about Bruce Jenner.

"We said he identified as a woman.

"So why, some of you wrote to ask, were we referring to him with "he" instead of "she?"

"In this case, the answer was simple. That was the pronoun he said he preferred in his appearance last week on national television in which he disclosed that he was becoming a woman.

"Still, it can be tricky to be both respectful and grammatically accurate when writing about gender transitions and gender nonconformity.

"Some people identify as male or female. Others reject both labels or say they're in transition. But traditional English usage has only "he" or "she." Not a lot of nuance there.

"That could change. A dozen or so gender-neutral pronouns ("ze" and "xe," for instance) have been suggested, but none has really caught on. And grammarians aren't ready to give up their death grip on 'they.'

"For now, the advocacy group GLAAD advises the news media to use the pronoun a transgender person prefers.

"The New York Times, for one, defers to the individual's choice, although we avoid new alternatives not widely familiar to readers.

"For Mr. Jenner, as of last week, that choice was still 'he.'"

For the record, The Advocate follows the policy of using whatever preferred pronoun or identity is expressed by an individual.

In the case of Jenner, until he or a representative informs us or otherwise issues a notice, The Advocate will continue to use "Bruce" and the male pronouns "he" and "him," as expressed by Jenner himself through Boylan and GLAAD.

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