GLAAD’s Richard Ferraro brought this to my attention. As a trans person who cares deeply about youth — a trans person who is by definition gender variant — gender expression in youth is something I always find of interest. Frankly, like GLAAD I’m very unhappy and concerned about the way Life & Style magazine framed this story. I anticipate that my emails on this will go out today.
The latest issue of Life & Style, a popular celebrity gossip magazine with a readership of almost 1 million, features a cover story that claims that actress Angelina Jolie is turning Shiloh, her daughter with Brad Pitt, into a boy. They cover asks “Is it harming the three-year-old?” referring to the child’s short haircut, pants and polo shirt.
The article cites several so-called “experts,” like Glenn Stanton from the virulently anti-gay Focus on the Family who says: “They need help, they need guidance of what that looks like. It’s important to teach our children that gender distinction is very healthy.”
When a magazine like Life & Style slaps this mixture of intrusive tabloid sensationalism and judgmental stereotyping on its cover, it can make life difficult for young people who are in the process of coming to terms with who they are.
The magazine needs to send a message to its readers – many of them parents – that they should not reject their children simply because they don’t happen to conform to Life & Style’s narrow gender stereotyping.
None of these “experts” has the qualifications to claim what is healthy or unhealthy for Shiloh. Rashad Robinson, Senior Director of Media Programs for GLAAD says, “We believe media has a responsibility to differentiate between credible authorities and politically motivated (and usually self-proclaimed) experts like Focus on the Family’s Glenn Stanton.” Life & Style magazine only adds to the sensationalism of the article by giving a platform to Stanton.
“Life & Style is way off the mark with this outrageous coverage,” Robinson adds. “Targeting children for ridicule about the way they dress is unacceptable, regardless of their parent’s celebrity status.”
In response to the cover story, The National Center for Transgender Equality told the Advocate, “The length of Shiloh’s hair or the clothes she wears are really matters for her and her parents to decide; this is a family that is known for their fashion, says Justin Tanis, outreach manager for NCTE tells The Advocate. “What’s important here is that every child, including Shiloh, has the opportunity to express herself and explore her world in a way that is safe and nurturing for her. Our society needs healthy, well-rounded children whose interests and tastes are as diverse as the children themselves[s]. Shiloh – and all other children – deserve the right to be themselves in ways that feel right to them as they learn and grow.”
GLAAD contacted Lindsay Ferraro, the Publicity Manager of Life & Style, to voice our serious concerns about this story. The magazine’s response was dismissive and showed no concern for the impact of the cover story’s sensationalism on all children and families.
We urge community members to voice their concerns directly to the magazine.
Dan Wakeford, Life & Style: Editor-in-Chief
Lindsey Ferraro, Life & Style: Publicity Manager
Life & Style: Associate Publicist
The headquarters for Bauer Publishing (which includes an Entertainment Division that is the home of Life & Style and InTouch) is:
270 Sylvan Avenue
Englewood Cliffs, NJ 07632
Tel: (201) 569-6699
Fax: (201) 510-3297