NEW YORK - Retailers selling a Caitlyn Jenner costume for Halloween sparked a social media firestorm on Tuesday from critics who say the getup insults transgender people and promotes stereotypes.
Jenner, a former Olympic gold medalist and reality TV star known as Bruce, came out as transgender this year and introduced herself in a Vanity Fair cover story that earned international attention.
A change.org petition launched on Monday is demanding that Spirit Halloween, a costume company with over 1,100 locations in the United States and Canada, stop producing and selling the costume, which includes a brunette wig, shiny white padded bustier and shorts resembling the outfit Jenner wore in the Vanity Fair cover photo.
The petition had about 2,700 signatures by Tuesday afternoon.
"Trans is not a costume. Even though Caitlyn is a public figure and I could understand someone wanting to celebrate her as a hero and as a public figure, this could definitely take on a transphobic vibe," Addison Rose Vincent, an activist who started the petition, said in an interview.
The petition criticised the costume for making light of a community that faces serious challenges, including violence, suicide, homelessness and unemployment. "To make a costume out of a marginalised identity reduces that person and community to a stereotype for privileged people to abuse," Vincent, 22, wrote in the petition.
Neither Jenner nor Spirit Halloween immediately responded to requests for comment.
On Tuesday, the costume was not listed on the Spirit Halloween website, but it is available for pre-order on other retail websites, including Anytime Costumes. The costume set also includes a pageant sash that reads, "Call Me Caitlyn," the Vanity Fair cover headline.
"You can dress as the softer side of the popular Olympian,"the Anytime Costumes description states. "You probably won't break any Twitter records when you wear this outfit like Caitlyn did when she first made her account, but you'll be sure to get a few laughs out of your friends and the other guests at the get together," the description states.
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