For the last few years, there have been rumors and anonymously sourced tabloid items suggesting that Bruce Jenner, the former Olympic champion and somewhat comically befuddled patriarchal figure on “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” was transitioning from male to female.
The various clues — the growing of his hair into ponytail length, the apparent shaving down of his Adam’s apple, the brightly colored polish on his fingernails — were gleefully reported by gossip websites and some of the more fact-challenged tabloid magazines…
Last week, US Weekly put the Jenner news on its cover, with the headline, “Finally, the Truth,” and People magazine is now reaching newsstands with a cover article on Mr. Jenner, headlined, “He Is Finally Happy.” Meanwhile, reports have surfaced that Diane Sawyer of ABC News has lined up an interview with Mr. Jenner for May, shortly before a documentary series about the former athlete’s transformational process is expected to start airing.
The decision to jump into this story was not an easy one, Jess Cagle, the editorial director of People, said in an interview this week.
“With private matters, we generally try to let people make announcements on their own time,” he said. “You try to be respectful and stop short of lying. I didn’t want to be in the business of exposing Bruce’s secret.”
But members of the Kardashian/Jenner families have begun to publicly acknowledge that something is definitely going on — even as they decline to discuss exactly what that is and continue to use the pronoun “he” when talking about Mr. Jenner.
….And Mr. Jenner’s rapidly changing appearance is certainly obvious.
His hair has grown past his shoulders, his nails have been painted various shades of red and pink, and breasts appear to be growing underneath his golf shirts. It is a remarkable transformation for a former Olympic athlete, the 1976 decathlon champion, who in his glory days appeared on a Wheaties box and seemed to be the paragon of male beauty….
A handful of transgender advocates also expressed concern that in a year when the trans movement appears to be gaining steam — with a Golden Globe going to the television show “Transparent” and a Time Magazine cover being bestowed on the transgender actress Laverne Cox — the spectacle surrounding Mr. Jenner could prove to be a setback.
“It would be great to have celebrities who are respected going through gender transitions,” said Dr. Katherine Rachlin, a psychologist and gender specialist in New York. “I don’t know if this falls into that. The whole thing seems pretty tabloid to me.”
Still, Ms. Aurthur, of Buzzfeed, was optimistic.
“We’re in murky waters,” she said. “My biggest hope is that if there’s a show about all this, Jenner’s transition will cease being a freak show told by the tabloids and will instead bring about a larger conversation. Bruce Jenner has become a target and joke along the way, but that’s easily reversible.”
By JACOB BERNSTEIN – New York Times –