While it shouldn’t be a story, it is: a magazine has produced a cover of Bruce Jenner that isn’t damaging or hurtful.
A few weeks ago we brought you the story of In Touch magazine’s decision to put a cruel and demeaning picture of Bruce Jenner on the cover of their magazine, speculating about his decision to transition into a woman.
In Touch had taken a picture of Stephanie Beacham, a TV actress from the 80s, and crudely snipped Bruce’s face out and super-imposed it on her head. The picture was then photoshopped to add lipstick and rouge. It was monstrous.
The cover and story were composed in such a way as to mock Jenner and put words into his mouth surrounding his sexuality.
It was cruel, and certainly transphobic.
But today we are happy to report one of their magazine competitors has chosen to take a different, much more respectful, route.
Here is US Weekly’s latest cover:
As Slate’s Ruth Graham puts it, US Weekly’s cover, while still relying on anonymous sources rather than Bruce himself, is markedly different– and important– for a number of reasons:
It treats him with dignity. It starts by normalising the issue by setting Jenner’s preparations to go public in the context of his family’s frankness about a wide variety of personal issues. It reports that he has the “full blessing” of all 10 of his children and step-children, who “find comfort in seeing Bruce be himself.” It suggests that his public transition will be helpful for viewers grappling through similar issues. And it concludes by quoting another anonymous “family source”: “He wants to live this way before it is too late.”
The way the media choose to report stories like these is essential in dismantling stereotypes and removing the stigma faced by the trans* community (along with many others).
So congratulations to US Weekly focussing on treating their subjects (and their readers) with the respect they deserve.
Mamamia previously reported:
So we thought we were beyond being shocked by the magical tricks that tabloid magazines play with Photoshop.
Except. It’s all a lie.
Not only did Bruce not speak to In Touch magazine, not only has Bruce never been on the record ever indicating his intention to transition, but the picture’s not even of him. It’s a photo of Stephanie Beacham, a TV actress from the 80s, with Bruce’s face crudely snipped out and super-imposed on her head.
And then, the publishers have added lipstick and blusher to the whole Frankenstein creation.
There are so many shades of wrong here that it’s almost impossible to isolate the worst. But we think we’ve struck on it.
It’s the fact that Bruce’s possible decision to transition was viewed as so freakish, so sensational, it worth going to ridiculous lengths to sell.
“Even in the present day, with all this awareness of transgender people living among us, mainstream culture continues to regard us as medical oddities and sexual pariahs. As people whose very identity is worthy of a sensationalist headline accompanied by some dreadful Photoshop work, just to garner a shock reaction,
“Transgender people’s authenticity of self — and ownership over their own stories — take second place to the sheer peculiarity of our existence, in which we are framed as deceitful, self-deluded, and unaware of the realities in which we live.
“And the In Touch cover just reinforces those hurtful stereotypes.”
Tabloids have been dancing around the issue of Bruce Jenner’s gender identity for a year.
They run photos of his painted nails, his “long” hair, his choice of footwear, along with salacious quotes from ‘sources’ who insist that Bruce has decided to transition.
Maybe Bruce has, maybe Bruce hasn’t. But this ugly and crude hijacking of a deeply personal issue paints the entire trans community as ‘freaks’, when really, is being a woman so deeply, deeply shocking?
“Last time I checked, the existence of a woman is not scandalous,” says Miranda. “And if Bruce Jenner is a woman, as [model] Andrej Pejic and [actress] Laverne Cox are, then popular culture simply needs to get over it. Being a woman is not worthy of a headline.
“It may also be that — if Bruce is a woman — Bruce has spent a lifetime combating shame and self-hatred to get to this point. Now, that is a story worth telling, but it’s one worth telling on his own terms. It is not one that we, as a media audience, are immediately entitled. And it’s not one that tabloid magazines get to tell on Bruce’s behalf.”
And that, that is the truth.
* Miranda Sparks is a self-declared “creative genius” with a passion for popular culture, women’s issues, and the advancement of queer and transgender individuals in society. As an advocate for these causes she has jumped at every opportunity to speak, educate, and make subjects personal in a manner that is friendly, accessible, and easy to understand. Having just completed her second year of psychology study, her ultimate ambition is to work in the field of mental health, bringing her breadth of personal experience into areas in need, and creating awareness around intersectional topics. As an individual who has dealt first hand not only with gender dysphoria, but discrimination, violence and mental health struggles, she is motivated to reach into the community and reduce suffering in whatever way she can.”