Associated Press misgenders Caitlyn Jenner in violation of its own guidelines

The organization says it uses trans subjects' preferred pronouns -- so why are they still calling Jenner "Bruce"?

Published June 1, 2015 8:30PM (EDT)

             (Vanity Fair/Annie Leibowitz)
(Vanity Fair/Annie Leibowitz)

The Associated Press offers purposely progressive guidelines for reporters when it comes to addressing transgender subjects in the news. It's just too bad the media organization doesn't actually adhere to its own rules.

In covering the news that Caitlyn Jenner, formerly known as Bruce, will make her first public appearance as a woman on the July cover of Vanity Fair, AP went against its own stated guidelines and misgendered the reality star, referring to her by her former name and using male pronouns instead of "she" or "her." The report later switches to female pronouns partway through, however using male pronouns at all violates the 2013 updated AP style guide, as recorded by GLAAD:

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. See transsexual.

And, as Media Matters' Carlos Maza points out, the AP's problematic description of Jenner doesn't stop there: the report itself is highly objectifying, emphasizing the former Olympian's "ample cleavage" and then some. From the report:

Bruce Jenner made his debut as a transgender woman in a va-va-voom fashion in the July issue of Vanity Fair.

"Call me Caitlyn," declares a headline on the cover, with a photo of a long-haired Jenner in a strapless corset, legs crossed, sitting on a stool. The image was shot by famed celeb photographer Annie Leibovitz. Prior to the unveiling of Caitlyn, Jenner had said he prefers the pronoun "he," but Vanity Fair contributing editor Buzz Bissinger, who wrote the accompanying story, refers to "she."

Jenner debuted a new Twitter account as well with: "I'm so happy after such a long struggle to be living my true self. Welcome to the world Caitlyn. Can't wait for you to get to know her/me." In about 45 minutes, the account had more than 180,000 followers. [...]

In addition to the corset, Vanity Fair released a black-and-white video on the making of the cover. It shows Jenner getting her hair done and posing in a long, off-the-shoulder gown with ample cleavage.

"Beyond misgendering Jenner, the AP's fixation on her 'cleavage' and 'va-va-voom' fashion reinforces a widespread problem with media coverage of transgender people: a voyeuristic fixation on their bodies and appearances," Maza writes. "That kind of coverage is degrading and objectifying and treats transgender people as either spectacles or sexualized objects. It adds nothing of substance to news reports while reinforcing the idea that how transgender people look is an acceptable topic for public comment."

The AP also tweeted a link to the report that used male pronouns to refer to Jenner, but it was later removed.

By Jenny Kutner

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Associated Press Bruce Jenner Caitlyn Jenner Lgbt Media Matters Trans Issues Transgender