Caitlyn Jenner debut poses challenges for media

Dylan Stableford
Caitlyn Jenner debut poses challenges for media

Caitlyn Jenner, the Olympian formerly known as Bruce Jenner, made her debut on the cover of Vanity Fair Monday, a little more than a month after announcing she is transgender in an interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer.

"Call me Caitlyn," Jenner declared in a quote printed on the cover.

But for some media outlets covering her transition, referring to Jenner as a woman may take some getting used to.

The Associated Press initially referred to Jenner as a "he" in a tweet about her Vanity Fair debut.

"Bruce Jenner makes his debut as a transgender woman in a va-va-voom cover for the July issue of Vanity Fair," the AP tweeted.

The tweet was later deleted.

As Media Matters pointed out, the news service violated its own style guidelines on how to refer to transgender people by not using Jenner's preferred pronoun:


transgender Use the pronoun preferred by the individuals who have acquired the physical characteristics of the opposite sex or present themselves in a way that does not correspond with their sex at birth. If that preference is not expressed, use the pronoun consistent with the way the individuals live publicly.


"Prior to the unveiling of Caitlyn, Jenner had said he prefers the pronoun 'he,'" the AP explained in its story, "but Vanity Fair contributing editor Buzz Bissinger, who wrote the accompanying story, refers to 'she.'"

On Tuesday, the New York Post published the Vanity Fair cover on its front page, using scare quotes around "she" in its cover line.



Other conservative media outlets refused to accept the change.

The Blaze published an op-ed column headlined: "Calling Bruce Jenner a Woman Is an Insult to Women."

"Parents, be aware," Matt Walsh wrote. "Soon the magazine rack in the checkout line at the supermarket will feature this profoundly disturbing image of Bruce Jenner."

Walsh questioned why Vanity Fair "dolled up" Jenner in its Annie Leibovitz photo shoot.

"The idea is to make the 65-year-old grandfather look like a college girl, but the effect is that he looks like a distorted version of neither," he wrote. "What he most closely resembles is a mentally disordered man who is being manipulated by disingenuous liberals and self-obsessed gay activists."

The Daily Caller, meanwhile, mocked Jenner's transition.

"Caitlyn Jenner Is the Greatest Female Athlete of All Time," the website declared.

"The evidence is clear," Patrick Howley wrote. "Jenner is the only woman in Olympic history to finish a full decathlon, boldly breaking down barriers at the 1976 Montreal Games by defeating male athlete Guido Kratschmer of West Germany. In scoring a then-world record 8,616 points in the event, Caitlyn proved that one woman can set a new standard for ALL of the 31 different gender classifications."

It wasn't just the media doing the mocking.

"Sorry...still calling you Bruce," former Nickelodeon star Drake Bell tweeted.

Bell later deleted the tweet.

On Facebook, famed music producer Timbaland posted an image with text that read: "His Momma Named Him Bruce, Imma Call Him Bruce."

Most, though, welcomed Jenner with open arms, including President Barack Obama, Jenner's stepdaughter Kim Kardashian and transgender actress Laverne Cox, who was featured on a 2014 Time magazine cover next to the cover line, "The Transgender Tipping Point."



"I am so moved by all the love and support Caitlyn is receiving," Cox wrote in a Tumblr post. "It feels like a new day, indeed, when a trans person can present her authentic self to the world for the first time and be celebrated for it so universally."

Vanity Fair Writer and Stylist Talk to Katie Couric about 'Call Me Caitlyn'