The celebrity magazine last week ran a cover featuring Bruce Jenner, who has recently attracted attention for his changed appearance that includes long hair and nail polish, photoshopped as a woman complete with blush and lipstick (Buzzfeed have also claimed that Jenner was doctored onto the face of British actress Stephanie Beacham). The tag-line for the cover reads "Bruce's Story: My Life as a Woman." The magazine did not speak to Jenner for the story. Despite rumours, Jenner has not issued any kind of statement as to whether he is undergoing a sex change.
According to Brand, the cover, which mocks Jenner’s appearance and makes no attempt to seek the truth, is an attack on Jenner and an act of transphobia (the discrimination against transgender and gender non-conforming people).
"This is bullying," Brand said on a recent episode of his daily Youtube show The Trews.
"Stop. Bruce Jenner is a human being."
"For some sections of the media, transphobia seems to be the most recent and encouraged form of prejudice, now that racism and homophobia are not tolerated.
"We can’t be homophobic anymore… Can’t be racist anymore… But still can be transphobic though, can we?"
Brand is not alone in his thoughts on the controversial cover. Trans activists have also condemned the cover with Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Centre for Transgender Equality telling The Advocate,
"That anybody is still trying to 'shock' people about transgender people is really sad."
Despite the treatment of Bruce Jenner, there remains hope that things are improving for transgender people (who suffer disproportionate violence, discrimination and vilification).
Laverne Cox (star of Netflix show Orange is the New Black and a leader of the transgender and LGBTQ movement) told Time magazine last year that trans people are beginning to have their voices heard, and their stories more understood.
"When people have points of reference that are humanizing, that demystifies difference. Social media has been a huge part of it and the Internet has been a huge part of it, where we’re able to have a voice in a way that we haven’t been able to before. We’re being able to write our stories and we’re being able to talk back to the media … We are the reason. And we are setting the agenda in a different way," she said.