Wednesday afternoon, In Touch magazine published a piece on Olympian Bruce Jenner, former husband of Kris Jenner and stepfather to the Kardashian sisters. The headline, all-caps white print over a pink background, was splashed on top of a picture of Jenner in a white baseball cap, his hair pulled back in a ponytail, sporting aviators and a hunter green USATF sweatshirt. It read, “BRUCE JENNER’S TRANSFORMATION: HOW DOES HE PLAN ON COMING OUT AS A WOMAN?”
The magazine posted an image of its print cover on its Facebook page. It appeared InTouch’s visuals staff decided to transform Jenner themselves. Jenner was Photoshopped with lipstick and blush. Buzzfeed asserts that the red top and scarf seen on the InTouch cover actually belong to British actress Stephanie Beacham — they’ve got the two images side-by-side should you want to compare.
Here’s another picture of her sporting the outfit in question:
The magazine claims, via anonymous source, that Jenner is planning to come out this year as trans with a spread in The Advocate. The Advocate says this is false. A celebrity gossip blog, Hollywood Life, picked up the story, and The Advocate responded.
“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, the magazine’s editor-in-chief. “Neither publication has any insider source with knowledge of The Advocate’s planned coverage.”
For the better part of a year at least, Jenner has been the subject of gossip, titter, and innuendo, and it only picked up when he and Kris publicized their divorce. Kardashian watchers wondered whether the public was witnessing Jenner transition on the family’s eponymous E! show. Photographs of Jenner sporting a pink manicure on his 65th birthday only stoked the flames. But even InTouch’s readers thought Wednesday’s move was a bridge too far.
“Intouch you guys are truly and positively scum of the earth this is why my subscription has been cancelled,” a reader named Nikki Nikki wrote on the InTouch Facebook page. Her post had more than 150 likes.
“You should be absolutely ashamed of yourselves, InTouch. With the climate of how trans* people are treated, in the wake of Leelah Alcorn, you somehow give the go ahead for this lie of a story and immaturely alter the photo. You should hang your heads in abject shame and pray there is someone who might forgive your perpetuating the hatred. You are disgusting,” Missy Nieto wrote.
Leelah Alcorn is the teen trans girl who recently committed suicide whose death became even more of a controversy when her parents refused to acknowledge her as trans and referred to her as their son. “Transparent” creator Jill Soloway recently dedicated her Golden Globe award “to the memory of Leelah Alcorn and too many trans people who die too young” in her acceptance speech at the awards ceremony.
Calls to Jenner’s representatives at the Harry Walker agency seeking comment were not immediately returned. In December, a representative from E! told Gossip Cop that rumors that Jenner had sought gender reassignment surgery were “ridiculous.”
Kris Jenner has been widely credited as a cunning, shrewd momager who masterminded her daughters’ seemingly unending vise-like grip on popular culture — Kim is the cover model for next month’s Vogue Australia. At the same time, the male members of the Kardashian clan are regarded as little more than orbiting garland, wholly ancillary to the Kardashian circus except in the cases of marriage, divorce, or pregnancy. Just think about how much of an afterthought Chris Humphries is, now that his Kardashian drama is behind him. Outside of circles following the NBA, he barely merits a second thought.
The scrutiny following Jenner is another animal altogether. Both Star and Us Weekly have published covers claiming that Jenner is a trans woman, but none of them went so far as to superimpose Jenner’s head on a woman’s body and make up his face. Online outlets such as Radar Online have fueled speculation over Jenner’s gender identity with posts like this one, which claims that Jenner has been receiving “moral support” from former professional tennis player and trans woman Renée Richards. But no one really knows what the heck is going on with Jenner, and the coverage, like most celebrity coverage, is staked on a scaffolding of anonymous tips and whatever can be gleaned about Jenner’s appearance from paparazzi photos.
How should InTouch’s move be interpreted? Can it simply be chalked up to the salacious nature of the celebrity weeklies, or is it somehow worse? Kris Jenner reportedly called it “mean,” and this is a woman who’s become inured to the weeklies publishing spreads speculating about everything from her offspring’s cellulite to the details of their sex lives. DListed refers to her as “Pimp Mama Kris,” for crying out loud. If you really want confuse things, try considering whether or not it’s possible that Kris leaked the story to InTouch, knowing it would drum up publicity for both entities. The mind boggles.
“This nonsense has to end,” Sarah Kate Ellis, president and chief executive of the GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) said 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.”