Article by Monica Couvillion | North Road Communications Firm Director
In his “20/20” special with Diane Sawyer, Bruce Jenner officially announced that “for all intensive purposes, yes, I am a woman,” identifying himself as transgender and confirming suspicions that have been circulating for almost an entire year.
Whether you view him as one of the greatest athletes in the world, or as the Kardashian’s quirky step-father, Jenner’s persona has been a pop culture staple for decades. His recent declaration has shocked some and inspired others, but overall, it was met with overwhelmingly positive feedback.
Following his “20/20” special, Jenner’s family members including Kim, Kourtney and Khloe Kardashian, as well as his ex-wife Kris Jenner, issued supportive statements on social media. Other celebrities like Miley Cyrus and Demi Lovato came forward with positive support on Twitter and made positive comments about how Jenner’s story will help others with similar experiences feel more comfortable in their own skin.
Jenner’s declaration has left many in the journalism and public relations industries wondering exactly how to approach the coverage in the most ethically precise manner. GLAAD, the nation’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) media advocacy organization, published a Do’s and Don’ts tip sheet regarding Jenner’s preferred means of description, responding accordingly to the swirl of media attention both his announcement and the television special itself has warranted.
Until Jenner officially announces that he would like to be referred to using a different name and/or female pronoun, he will continue to be referenced in the media as Bruce and as a “he” or “him,” as this is what the guidelines outline. The GLAAD tip sheet also specifies that although Jenner’s female identity is his gender identity, it is not his sexual orientation. It is extremely important for the media to continue to cover Jenner’s incredibly personal story with the utmost accuracy in order to keep the public properly informed and to treat Jenner’s own testimonial with proper care.