With People magazine's new report claiming that sources close to the Kardashian family have "confirmed" that Bruce Jenner is coming out as a transgender woman, it's time to talk about how we talk about Bruce Jenner. In previous months, there's been tons of speculation and gossip about Jenner's rumored gender identity that points to Jenner's "new look" and seemingly changed appearance as, supposedly, definitive signs that Jenner identifies as a transgender woman.
Some of the coverage on the the rumors have been relatively positive — many citing Kim Kardashian's support of Jenner's rumored "journey," — but, unfortunately, a lot of it has been really, really terrible: For instance, earlier this January, In Touch Weekly ran a shamelessly transphobic cover story on Jenner's "transformation" and "life as a woman." Though In Touch Weekly isn't the only publication to employ similarly transphobic language, it was definitely one of the worst: Bustle's own Parker Malloy writes that In Touch's sensationalized story on Jenner's rumored coming-out as transgender points to everything wrong with the media.
In a piece for Jezebel, Kat Callahan elaborates:
The whole exposé style is pretty insulting to trans folks[...]It's really quite appalling to have it framed as some horrible secret to be revealed, as if transition was an indiscretion, a bad habit, or a destructive decision. That's not what transitioning is; transitioning is about healthy decision-making. It's about following whatever steps one needs in order to be happier and well-adjusted.
Regardless of whether rumors of Jenner coming out as transgender have been "confirmed," by sources close to the Kardashians or whether Jenner's upcoming docu-series meant to highlight an unspecified "journey" will address it, Jenner hasn't confirmed the rumors himself. Until Jenner chooses to do so — if Jenner chooses to do so — speculation is just speculation, and some speculation, like that regarding someone's gender identity, doesn't belong in tabloids or punchlines. As Callahan concludes, "It's insulting to Jenner even if it's all inaccurate speculation. If [Jenner] is transitioning, then it's even worse."
It's time to put the Bruce Jenner rumors to rest — if Jenner ever decides to address them himself, then that's Jenner's right. As contributing editor at Marie Claire Nicolette Mason tweeted:
Thankfully, at the very least, some Twitter users have taken to the web in an effort to reach out and show their support for Jenner, and express that Jenner's business is Jenner's business — whatever it may be. Marie Claire also tweeted an uplifting note from Kim Kardashian:
Others have tweeted their support and well-wishes for Jenner's happiness as well:
The bottom line, above all: The truth is, we don't know if Jenner identifies as transgender, despite what any rumors say — and it really isn't anyone's business to try and guess. It's up to Jenner to tell the story, no matter what it is, and that's what's most important to remember.