Gawker, Jezebel, The New York Times, and others, have offered their clear support of Caitlyn Jenner in response to her debut. Gawker coined a tolerable pun (and tolerable puns, you’ll recognize, are rare) for the occasion: “Caitlyn is Greatlyn.”
Though their reportage was more subdued, USA Today, The Huffington Post, and others showed respect by utilizing the proper gender pronoun in describing Jenner.
Jenner’s Vanity Fair cover has set the Twitterverse on fire. In less than five hours, the story generated 1.5 million tweets, most of them exceedingly supportive, including shout-outs from Maria Shriver and Lena Dunham.
In just over four hours, Jenner’s official new Twitter handle (@Caitlyn_Jenner) amassed over 1 million followers, beating out President Obama’s earlier record.
It takes courage to share your story. https://t.co/Q7wWjV9Rxx— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) June 1, 2015
In 2013, the Associated Press set guidelines specifying that transgender individuals be referred to by “the pronoun consistent with the way the individuals live publicly.”
But the Associated Press’s reportage on Caitlyn Jenner’s debut violated its own policy, repeatedly using the male pronoun to refer to Jenner. The article did not showcase the new Vanity Fair photo at all, instead allowing a 2013 picture of her, pre-transition and labeled “Bruce Jenner”, to take the central focus.
What is more, the article turned this defining moment in trans history into an excuse to objectify Jenner and her “ample cleavage.”
Some would argue that Jenner has opened herself up to this kind of given the way she’s dressed, and the platform she has chosen. But a woman’s physical attractiveness does not justify complete disregard for her deeper, more valuable attributes. In this case, Jenner’s courage, her contribution to trans visibility, deserves to be given first priority.
With characteristic tastefulness, Fox News reporters Dagen McDowell and Neil Cavuto took turns sensationalizing the “absurdity” of Jenner’s transition, writing off said transition as a publicity stunt intended to “one up” Jenner’s stepdaughter, Kim Kardashian, and hitting on her.
If Jenner wanted to outmatch her stepdaughter’s celebrity, she would likely have chosen a means that would subject her to less ridicule. It's characteristic of society to look down upon men with “feminine” traits, or insult them through comparison to women. In such a context, and given the intense antipathy many men hold to being viewed as the slightest bit “womanly,” a man transitioning into a woman isn't likely doing it to garner quick money or fame.
In her interview for Vanity Fair, Jenner preempted and mocked such lines of thinking:
“‘Oh, she’s doing a stupid reality show. She’s doing it for the money. She’s doing this, she’s doing that.’ I’m not doing it for money. I’m doing it to help my soul and help other people.”
“You don’t go out and change your gender for a television show.”