Bruce Jenner, pentathlon winner, hot guy on Wheaties box, and unfortunate captive of the Kardashian dynasty, recently admitted to being transgender. The rumors had swirled for a long time, especially after his divorce from Kris Jenner (which after all, may simply have been common sense on his part). Then the media published photographs of Bruce employing feminine wiles such as painted fingernails, lip gloss, and mascara. The paparazzi followed him everywhere, taunting him, cajoling him, trying to force him into saying what was becoming obvious.
It was too much. In an April 24 interview with Diane Sawyer, the 65-year-old grandfather of seven admitted to being transgender. Jenner explained he had always felt the urge to wear dresses and makeup, and felt an enormous amount of confusion and guilt about it. He said, “My brain is much more female than it is male. It is hard for people to understand that but that is what my soul is.” Jenner said he took hormone pills and had cosmetic facial surgeries to create a more feminine appearance, but nothing else. The best part of the interview was when Bruce Jenner casually mentions he’s a Republican, nearly causing Sawyer to faint. Cross-dressing is one thing, but a Republican…!
Enter the June 2015 Vanity Fair cover. The glamorous image on the cover announced: Call Me Caitlyn. Bruce Jenner was gone. Caitlyn Jenner had taken his place, and wishes to be addressed with female pronouns from this point forward, which I’ll do.
I struggle with the media barrage, and not for ideological reasons. I don’t care if Caitlyn Jenner is a man or a woman, how she introduces herself, what she wears, if she uses makeup, etc. I don’t have a strong feeling about transgender issues. I have a core belief that people’s personal choices are their own and should not be dictated by others. So I don’t think Caitlyn is to be condemned for doing what she wants.
On the other hand, I strongly condemn the media for attempting to force a narrative onto the public which insists on recognizing Caitlyn’s choice as legitimate and silencing any disagreement. Case in point: Pronouns. The media is obsessed with using feminine pronouns for Jenner. Jenner has requested people do this, and I think it’s polite to comply. But it isn’t wrong or hateful to refuse.
The Associated Press referred to Jenner as “he” and the PC crowd materialized, shaking their pitchforks and frothing at the mouth. Unfortunately, they were intimidated into making an adjustment. GLAAD sent a style sheet to the media, stating how transgender people are to be referenced. There was a time when we had an independent press that would not have accepted a special interest group dictating content.
On that note, meet another Caitlin:
Caitlyn Dewey, of the Washington Post and the Thought Police, created a Twitter bot (@she_not_he) to automatically respond to posts that include the words “Jenner” and male pronouns to remind the Twitterverse that one may only tweet in a politically-correct fashion.
I’m not criticizing entertainment media like Vanity Fair. Nor bloggers, nor activists. But how disappointing that the former news media and its journalistic principles are gone for good. Journalism is supposed to be based on truth and fair presentation. Coverage should be proportional to importance. Even if the world consisted only of Caitlyn Jenner and Iran, the coverage would still be enormously out of proportion. Jenner shouldn’t be in the news, though of course entertainment media is understandable.
The role of journalism is not to manipulate, intimidate, or threaten the public into a prescribed point of view. The ugly tactics the media is practicing aren’t Jenner’s fault, but she may be guilty be association. If you cannot refrain from clouding the truth with personal bias or a devotion to a certain outcome, you are not a journalist.
There seems to be nothing left to do but raise a toast in honor of Bruce Jenner’s transition to Caitlyn Jenner, and The New York Times’ and Washington Post’s transition to Entertainment Tonight. Let’s listen to the music stylings of Ella Fitzgerald in Things Ain’t What They Used to Be: