Bruce Jenner has become one of the most closely watched former Olympic winners in the world. But it’s because of reports that he is transgender, not for athletic feats, as well as his appearances on Keeping Up With The Kardashians, that Jenner’s every move is chronicled. And now, as the date of his announced interview with Diane Sawyer comes closer, some transgender activists are expressing concern that his portrayal in the media is causing a backlash for the LGBT community, reported the Los Angeles Times.
But many of these activists are hesitant to voice their views about what has become a hot button topic. It’s a time when they feel cautiously more empowered, as if they are winning acceptance after Laverne Cox made Time‘s cover and Transparent, which portrays a man and his family reacting to the process of transitioning, won a Golden Globe. Now they say that they are concerned about the supposed role model that Jenner was thought to become for the transgender segment of society.
And it’s not just the fact that Bruce comes from a family known for outspoken, dressed-for-success characters such as “momager” Kris Jenner and fashion diva Kim Kardashian, emphasize these activists. It’s the persona that he’s displaying, such as French manicures and longer hair, that they worry will create stereotypes.
“When you make a spectacle out of guessing who is and isn’t transgender, it harms real transgender people just trying to go to school or work and trying to live their lives,” pointed out Nick Adams, a spokesperson for GLAAD.
But part of the concern for activists comes from media coverage, such as Photoshopping Jenner’s face onto a female actress’s or referring to his transition in ways that emphasize rumors such as breast implants.
“[That coverage] is harmful in a truly profound way,” charged Parker Molloy, who is both a writer and transgender activist. “The message it sends, especially if you don’t know anyone else who is trans, is that you are a joke and you are a freak show.”
A recent survey conducted by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National LGBTQ Task Force revealed the impact of the slow progress in acceptance. Of those trans individuals surveyed, more than 90 percent reported feeling discriminated against or harassed at work. While 1.6 percent of the general population has tried to commit suicide, 41 percent of trans people have made an attempt.
What remains to be seen is how Diane Sawyer’s interview with Bruce Jenner will affect the public perception of the transgender community. A preview video has been released, shown below.
Some activists have accused the media, in particular tabloids, of bullying Bruce Jenner, as the Inquisitr reported.
After a tabloid mocked up a cover featuring a photoshopped Bruce Jenner in makeup and women’s clothes, LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) groups such as GLAAD denounced it as an example of transphobia.
The outrage results from InTouch Weekly, which in addition to falsifying the cover photo, wrote the headline “My Life as a Woman.” GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis addressed both that specific item and the general media coverage of Jenner in a statement.
“This nonsense has to end. 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.”
Regarding the infamous InTouch cover, transgender activist Kate Bornstein emphasized that she felt it constituted bullying, reported the Advocate.
“D**n it,” she declared. “Bruce Jenner is being bullied, and publicly shamed for no other reason than being trans. I’m so sorry for B.J.”
But now that respected news journalist Diane Sawyer is set to interview Jenner, how will that public perception change? That’s the question that activists wait to determine.
The special will air on April 24.
What do you think about Bruce Jenner’s impact on how the transgender community is perceived? Post your comments below.
[Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images]