Katie Couric hosted transgender actress Laverne Cox and transgender reality star/model Carmen Carerra on her daytime talk show Katie Monday, although the interviews went a bit asconce when she began asking invasive questions about the women’s genitalia.
Couric introduced Carerra as being “born a man and that’s why she’s on our show.”
Once Carerra had taken her seat, Couric asked her about transitioning from male to female. “Your private parts are different now, aren’t they?” she inquired.
Carrera responded, “I don’t want to talk about it,” she said. “It’s really personal,” explaining that there is much more to her than what’s between her legs.
Couric backpedaled on the question, only to then ask her second guest, Laverne Cox, the same question.
But Laverne was ready with an eloquent and thoughtful statement about the reality of trans women’s lives in America today:
“I do feel there is a preoccupation with that. The preoccupation with transition and surgery objectifies trans people. And then we don’t get to really deal with the real lived experiences. The reality of trans people’s lives is that so often we are targets of violence. We experience discrimination disproportionately to the rest of the community. Our unemployment rate is twice the national average; if you are a trans person of color, that rate is four times the national average. The homicide rate is highest among trans women. If we focus on transition, we don’t actually get to talk about those things.”
Experienced journalist that she is, Couric replied with a simple, “That was very well put,” before cutting to commercial.
This presents a great moment to comment on the issue and idea of acceptance for transgendered people. Every day in the LGBT community we hear how we all strive/work/hope for the world to see us all as human beings. But even in the LGBT community, some can judge folks who may be out of their comfort zone. “Well, I may be gay but I just don’t get the trans thing” etc….
Kids, everyone needs to get past that. How someone lives their lives may be different from you or me or Johnny Weir, but if we all want to be accepted we’ve got to do that across the board.
There are shades and gradations of “different.” And I celebrate all those colors. The world would be very boring if we were all white, straight, wore khakis and followed the majority in terms of life plans. Maybe you don’t get the “bear” thing. Maybe you don’t get the gym/muscle thing. Maybe you get hung up on the bottom/top thing. None of it matters.
I don’t encounter a lot of transgendered people on a day to day basis, but I spent most of New Years Eve with a beautiful person who is transgendered and it was not an issue. We laughed, celebrated the New Year and it meant nothing to me how this person lived their life.
If we look to celebrate our commonalities and our differences, we have to walk the walk we talk.
Hit pause next time you find yourself in a new situation that might be “new” – then relax and breathe. You could find within a few minutes it has nothing to do with the human being in front of you and more to do with how we’ve been programmed. WHICH we can address within ourselves. Take the time to interact with the human being in front of you. Don’t think, just “be.”
As Sally Bowles says in the musical “Cabaret” – “I think people are people.” And that’s really all there is to it.
My .02 cents.
Bravo Laverne Cox for your clear, calm, and beautiful response to a question that really led “off-topic.” You lead by example.
And, you rock.