7 reasons why allkpop’s Caitlyn Jenner article is offensive and unnecessary
NOTE: As this article refers to a website Beyond Hallyu has long boycotted, no links to the article mentioned will be included.
Caitlyn Jenner’s recently unveiled gender transition has been widely hailed as a great opportunity to improve the dialogue in society surrounding transgender issues. While as a very rich and privileged celebrity her life does not reflect the day-to-day realities of a lot of other trans people (especially poor, trans women of colour who are most likely to be victims of violence), her decision to live openly as a woman has the potential to seriously impact society’s understanding of what it is to be trans. Already she has caused a lot of discussion in the press about trans identities and even the trashiest of news outlets – even TMZ! – have been using her new name Caitlyn and female pronouns in their reporting.
Apparently allkpop did not get this memo.
In an article that betrayed its problems even in the title, ‘Korean netizens react to Bruce Jenner’s transformation into a woman’, allkpop showed flagrant disregard for Jenner’s newly-identified gender for the sake of what were probably intended to be jokes. (Although I must admit I had difficulty working out which parts were supposed to be funny.) Here are all the reasons this article was so offensive in a handy listicle. I hear this is a form that allkpop writers can understand.
In the scheme of all the things wrong with this article this is a relatively minor point but it’s still an issue nonetheless. The idea that the recent changes in Caitlyn Jenner’s appearance are a sudden ‘transformation’ from male to female wholly misunderstands what transgender actually means.
Caitlyn Jenner had felt she was a woman for a long time, her recent physical changes are external indicators which mean she can more easily present herself to the world as her real gender and most likely make her feel happier and more at home in her own body.
Her gender is her identity not her body. It existed before and after her bodily changes, commonly referred to as a gender transition. It’s for this same reason that many professionals have started referring to sex reassignment surgery as gender confirmation surgery. Many trans people identify as trans without undergoing any surgery or changing their appearance for various financial, social and medical reasons but that does not make their identity any less valid.
2. Call Me Caitlyn
Caitlyn Jenner’s name is Caitlyn Jenner. If someone changes their name, regardless of their gender identity, it is rude to continue to refer to them by their old name. Which brings us to…
3. What’s in a pronoun?
The way the English language is structured it is very difficult to refer to an individual person without a gender. Every time we use a pronoun to refer to them we make some kind of statement about their gender. Caitlyn Jenner has asked to be identified using female pronouns. That means if you refer to her by any pronoun other than ‘she’ or ‘her’ you are misgendering her. She is a woman. Her name is Caitlyn and she is referred to by the pronouns ‘she’ and ‘her’. Using anything else undermines and invalidates her identity.
4. She’s so much hotter than Kris!
I will admit that when I saw Caitlyn Jenner’s photoshoot I had some serious hair envy. Her stylists at Vanity Fair did a great job and it looked lovely. But focussing too much on how conventionally attractive a trans person is does not help anyone understand what it is like to be trans. As LGBT media advocate organisation, GLAAD has said:
Commenting on how well a transgender person conforms to conventional standards of femininity or masculinity is reductive and insulting.
This particular article also scored a double whammy by pitting Caitlyn Jenner against ex-wife Kris, reinforcing old, tired stereotypes of women as petty, shallow and always competing with each other for attention.
5. I don’t know how to feel, bro.
Bro, your feelings don’t matter, bro. This story is about Caitlyn Jenner, not you. Just have some respect for her decision and keep your feelings to yourself. In fact, that raises another point…
6. Why is allkpop even reporting on this?
This is not in any way related to Korean entertainment so why is a K-pop ‘news’ website even reporting on it? There is no good reason for this other than to cash in on a few extra clicks. When I was searching around Naver and Korean twitter I struggled to even find many reactions to this news. It really isn’t that big a story in Korea.
7. And finally…
Don’t use this picture.
Do I even have to explain why that is offensive?
There is no justification for this article. It is in bad taste and inaccurate and breaks at least half of GLAAD’s guidelines for reporting on Caitlyn Jenner’s transition. It’s nothing but an attempt to cash in on a few extra pageviews through cheap and unoriginal jokes at the expense of Caitlyn Jenner and anyone else who is transgender.