InTouch, the gossipy magazine known for titillating if not factual accurate content, caused the splash it very much intended to this week with a cover featuring a heavily Photoshopped Bruce Jenner alongside the headline "My Life as a Woman." The cover story claims via a "source close to the reality star" that Jenner will come out as transgender sometime this year with a big announcement on the cover of The Advocate.
“This will be the year of his coming out," the supposed source says. "He knows that people have recognized his changes, and he’s finally becoming more comfortable with himself and his choice to be a woman.”
For the cover image to accompany its "big exclusive," the InTouch staff decided to create a transitioned Jenner using, as BuzzFeed initially pointed out, British actress Stephanie Beacham for a model. Here is InTouch's cover and a photo of Beacham for comparison:
The only problem is, according to Advocate editor-in-chief Matthew Breen, his publication has not been contacted by Jenner for a big revelation. "Neither InTouch nor Hollywood Life [like InTouch, another celebrity gossip magazine published by BauerMedia], nor any other publication could possibly have knowledge of plans for The Advocate's covers. There is no such 'insider,' and I can be certain of that because I’m the only person who has knowledge of future covers beyond the one we’re currently working on — and that cover is not about Bruce Jenner. So either Hollywood Life is lying about having a source, or was lied to, and didn’t attempt to confirm any rumor with me. That’s bad reporting," Breen told Yahoo.
"InTouch’s cover, so clearly falsified, is totally despicable," Breen continued. "I understand that magazine doesn't do journalism, but their attempt to alarm people with this cover is contemptible and irresponsible, and they deserve the backlash they’re getting. Their faked cover simultaneously shames and bullies Bruce Jenner and uses the existence of transgender people as shock value."
Yahoo contacted InTouch for comment and received no response.
Speculation about Bruce Jenner's gender identity isn't exactly new. Since Jenner began growing his hair out more than a year ago, he's been the subject of gossip and inneudo. Photos of him sporting pink nail polish on his 65th birthday only fanned those flames. Some have gone so far as to claim it was the reason for Jenner's divorce from Kris Jenner, which was finalized in December.
While Jenner himself has not commented on the matter, those around him have repeatedly denied claims that he is planning to have sexual-reassignment surgery or that he prefers to be called Bridgette. A representative for E!, the host network of House Kardashian, called the gender reassignment surgery rumors "ridiculous."
That the Kardashian family is so open and shares so much with the public is often mistaken as an invitation to speculate and to judge. But in regards to unsubstantiated rumors about Bruce Jenner's gender indentification, wild speculation can only do harm and no good, according to GLAAD.
"This nonsense has to end," GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement. "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."
What's worse, much of the media coverage of Jenner's so-called "transition" carries a mocking tone, suggesting that Jenner's choices to wear his hair long and to paint his nails every once in a while are objectively bad ones.
"Studies show that only 8 percent of Americans say they personally know someone who is transgender," Nick Adams, GLAAD's communication director and a transperson himself, told Yahoo. "When media stories imply that being transgender is a joke or something inherently strange and shameful — a dirty secret to be uncovered — it makes life very difficult for transgender people who are simply trying to live as their authentic selves."