Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair debut garnered widespread support. Celebrities and politicians called her courageous, fearless, beautiful, and brave. Her children voiced their excitement (“Now that’s a cover,” supermodel Kendall said) and, in addition to breaking a Twitter record by gaining a million followers in four hours, Jenner received a plethora of congratulations, thank-yous, and greetings.
Trans activists rallied around Jenner and used the opportunity to talk about central issues facing the trans community. Laverne Cox penned a heartfelt post on the importance of unpacking cisgender beauty standards, and Janet Mock tweeted, “Let’s celebrate Caitlyn & use her moment to uplift trans folks facing insurmountable economic barriers for affirming healthcare.”
Despite all the support and excitement, transphobia still surfaced frequently in coverage of Caitlyn’s debut. Celebrities posted transphobic tweets, media outlets ignored their own transgender reporting guidelines, trolls popped up on Twitter, and unchecked paranoia was the rule of the day on Fox News.
After fans called him out on his transphobia, Bell tweeted, “Calm down children” and “Good thing social media has no effect on real life,” before eventually deleting the tweet. He did not issue any form of apology.
“His momma named him Bruce,” read a Facebook post from Timbaland. “Imma call him Bruce.” Which is ironic coming from someone who refuses to be called Timothy Zachery Mosley, which is what “his momma named him.”
Just your classic fear of sexual contagion from a D-list actor.
Meanwhile, PBS NewsHour anchor Gwen Ifill expressed skepticism over Jenner’s cover.
The anchor of the Fox News segment above suggests Jenner is merely “dressed as a woman,” thereby denying her true identity.
And not to be outdone, another Fox anchor suggests Jenner’s transition and Vanity Fair cover marked the end of American civilization. “Rome, final days. But that’s fine,” Neil Cavuto said. His co-anchor referred to Jenner as “he” a total of seven times in the segment.
The IBT offers a pretty clear example of how to get pretty much everything wrong. It’s transition, not “sex change,” her new name, not “his new name,” and her identity, not “his new identity.” They also ran the story with a photo of Bruce, not Caitlyn.
The Associated Press violated its own transgender guidelines by referring to “his” debut and using Bruce rather than Caitlyn. After a swift backlash, they revised the tweet to eliminate “his,” although they still used “Bruce.”
In a sermon on Sunday, Dr. Ronnie Floyd said, “You dads, make sure you raise your sons around men who are manly.” He linked Josh Duggar, accused of child molestation, and Caitlyn Jenner, calling them both “sinners.” Of Jenner’s transition, he said, “What’s remarkable about this is the world is applauding.”