Content note: trans persons in the media
I am not a trans activist. I do not claim to know enough about the trans community. Thusly, I will be brief and stick to what I know at present: language. I’m shooting for roughly 350 words.
Yesterday the New York Times ran an article: The Transition of Bruce Jenner: A Shock to Some, Visible to All (I used a proxy so the NYT will not log a page hit from you).
The blurb reminded us “he has not confirmed it.” Several paragraphs in, I read, “Advocates for transgender issues declined in interviews to discuss specifics about Mr. Jenner’s situation, saying that until he announces what is going on, it is wrong to make any assumptions.”
This reminds me of the ridiculousness of the episode of This American Life about “Batman”: include a single, passing statement wherein a source calls you out for your previous line of reporting to before moving along with your reporting.
If a person has not come out as trans, there is no article about their transition.
I don’t care if the rest of the article is a good “think piece.” If the first third of the article is premised upon speculation and tabloid journalism, the last two-thirds do not redeem the piece. If the NYT cared about the trans community, it would run a piece on the trans community without linking it to click bait. As it is written, the article is just one more that commodifies the presumed gender identity of a celebrity.
My closing thoughts come from tumblr:
I don’t care that media and tabloid coverage has suddenly become more serious and respectful because of reporting that Bruce Jenner might be transitioning.
Gaining some sort of confirmation (confirmation will only come from Bruce until then, let’s shut up about it) does not mean that the tabloid reports were not transmisogynistic and hateful in the first place. Because they were. They’re a prime example of how anyone who defies gender norms, but particularly those who are feminine-presenting, will always be the subject of ridicule and violence.