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January 26, 2011

Is Jennifer Aniston Confused By Chaz Bono?

Jennifer Aniston is on the cover of the February issue of Allure magazine. In the "Style Timeline" portion of her interview, one of the photos is of Aniston with Chaz Bono, an old friend from high school. The commentary is kinda cringeworthy.
1987: WITH CHASTITY BONO AT LAGUARDIA HIGH SCHOOL IN NEW YORK CITY

JA: "Every day a group of us would go to Chaz's house after school. I haven't spoken to him in a while."

Allure: "Is his sex reassignment confusing?"

JA: "Well, obviously, yeah. I mean, even for his—her—mother, I think. His mother. But you know, good for her. She should just be happy." [Allure.com]

Oh, boy. Aniston starts off okay, but she's tripping all over pronouns by the end of her answer. I don't think it's entirely her fault though. The wording of the question leaves something to be desired too. Is "confusing" really the right word to use here? I think a word like "surprising" would have been okay in this case since we're talking about high school friends who haven't spoken in awhile. But what's so "obviously" confusing about Chaz's transition? Maybe I'm nitpicking, but the tone of this exchange seems to imply that the whole thing is some big weird mystery.

The good news for the confused among us is that Oprah's new OWN network has picked up the rights to Becoming Chaz, a documentary about Bono's transition that recently premiered at Sundance.
"I wanted to do this because I wanted to help people," Chaz said. "And I knew that...I could put a face on this issue that people just don't understand because it's a hard one to understand. I wanted to be able to change people's hearts and minds on this." [EOnline]
Maybe Aniston and Allure can have a viewing party.

4 comments:

Renee said...

I actually blame Aniston 100%. She knows that Chaz is a man and therefore I don't see the need to flip back and forth and misgender him. Nice to know he has her blessings to be happy though. (yeah that was totally snark)

Jezebel said...

Yeah, I really don't get what all that flipping back and forth was about. The correct pronoun is in the question, and Aniston starts off right, then messes up and corrects herself, and then switches back to the wrong ones at the end. It is as if she knows what she's supposed to say but can't fully bring herself to do it. Makes no sense.

Anonymous said...

When you know someone as a particular gender your whole life, it's gotta be easy to slip back into the wrong pronoun. I mean, really, how many people call their current significant other by their past significant other's name? Or how many parents call their kids by one of the other kids names on occasion? I think you should cut her some slack on this one.

Anonymous said...

Just my own personal experience - a few months ago I found out that my brother is transitioning into a sister. She wants me to use the feminine pronoun already, from the day I found out. After thinking of her as my brother for 24 years, its really, really hard to do, simply as a matter of habit. It doesn't matter what I know is right, it doesn't matter that I accept it, and it doesn't matter that when I have time to think about it I can easily say it or write it correctly. As an immediate, habitual response to a question or conversation, I often answer with what I am used to, and still call her "he."

If Aniston isn't familiar with the politically correct way to deal with this, that will make it even harder. I believe that the magazine could have dealt with this better, tossed out her answer, and rephrased the question to allow her to give a better response.