In an exclusive interview with Diane Sawyer yesterday, Bruce Jenner, former athlete and a star of KUTWTK, came out as transgender. According to Bruce, he’s known something wasn’t right with him since he was very young, and has lived with this secret for most of his life.
As a big fan of the Kardashian Klan (sorrynotsorry), I know the public perception of Bruce pretty well. There was always something just a little bit not right with him, and he seemed to just be going through the motions in life – looking back I suppose that he just never came across as ‘happy’ to me. I guess now we know why.
This news hasn’t exactly came out of nowhere. For a good few months now, celebrity gossip magazines have been widely reporting it; regardless of the fact neither Bruce nor his friends and family have addressed the issue. Whenever I heard about it, I’ll admit that I felt a little bit sick.
Now, before you all jump down my throat, let me explain.
In less than a three month’s time, I will be a qualified journalist. I’ve known that this is what I’ve wanted to do since I was five years old, and was excited at the opportunity to learn more about the inner-workings of my future profession. During my studies, I had a module called Media Law. From day one, it was drilled into us that knowing your media law was the be-all and end-all of being a successful journalist, and we must know it back to front if we were to go into the business. Without knowing about media law, you’d be constantly on your toes, wondering what you can and can’t say in print, just waiting for the day when the PCC would come down on your arse and you’d be the laughing stock of the news room forever more.
I took media law pretty seriously. It was bloody hard to pass as a module, but I somehow managed and promised myself that I’d always keep up with the changes in the laws, to make sure that I’d be a GOOD journalist.
That’s why I was so sickened by this Bruce Jenner situation. Months ago now, the rumours started. But this wasn’t your average social media gossip, where a poorly framed picture made Bruce look more feminine or he was seen growing his hair out more than usual, and people jumped to conclusions. No, this came from the news networks.
I first came across it when In Touch Weekly produced this horrific cover:
I was naive enough to think, for at least a few minutes, that this must be true. Why wouldn’t it be? Surely there is no possible way a magazine could print that – front page no less – without it being true? If it wasn’t true, Bruce could sue them for all they’re worth! Their readers would never trust them again! They’d have to close their doors and cease printing!
I’ve had it drilled into me for three years that you can’t just print what you want to print. There are rules, there is defamation of character, there are hefty fines and, more importantly, there are people looking up to you for entertaining, TRUE stories. Without the truth, a journalist’s job can never be done.
After getting more caught-up with the situation, I felt a horrible sense of helplessness. How are they getting away with this? This just isn’t right.
I’m from the UK, and though I know for a fact that some of the US press has been completely horrifying towards this whole situation, I’ll be talking mainly about the UK coverage for now.
Let’s talk about Heat Magazine, who I’ve come to absolutely despise over these past few months, and all because of Bruce.
The interview (the FIRST time EVER Bruce has openly addressed the rumours) took place yesterday. Search Bruce Jenner in the search-box of Heat’s website and there’s a good two pages of coverage that’s occurred since the interview. However, go back even further and you’ll find an array of stories about Bruce being transgender, headlines that read either absolute lies or extremely misleading information, like here, here and here dating back weeks before the interview. There are many other examples of UK coverage, but Heat has been the one that’s really grinded my gears through this. And even after posting all these general lies and/or bending of the truth, they’ve had the cheek to cover the interview like they’re a respectable news network, offering this breaking news to their adoring public? Well I call bullshit.
Although I’m not trying to claim by any stretch that gossip magazines are considered trustworthy, they are above all news networks. A journalist’s primary job is to get reliable information out to its readers. It’s why we’re here, it’s why we’re trained (mostly) and it’s why there are laws in place to keep us in check. It doesn’t make sense to me that magazines are printing this, and not having any consequences come their way. What they’re doing is undoubtedly against the law. Whether the rumors about Bruce being transgender ended up being true or not, these publications should be ashamed of themselves for covering it the way that they did.
More than that though, what I can only label as bullying is a massive step back for the transgender community. If printing a picture of Jenner superimposed onto a woman’s body with makeup is the media’s way of addressing these rumors, is it any wonder that many trans people are so terrified to come out?
If something people look to for news can so blatantly and publicly ridicule Bruce Jenner, it sends the message to everyone that transgender people are something to be mocked, something that’s not really a big deal and something we can all have a nice laugh about it.
In reality, this is people’s lives. Anyone with the faintest dash of empathy can relate to the pain and feelings of anguish that comes with denying what you are, and most of the press has completely hindered rather than helped this situation, and it really does make me sick. I’m not sure that I want to go into an industry that’s filled with scumbags like them.
I’m genuinely so happy for Bruce, and really do hope that coming out will bring him the freedom that he’s denied himself for most of his life. I also hope that this encourages other people living with these issues to tell their story. I promise you that we aren’t all like them.