Earlier this week, TV’s two most famous transgender female entertainers, Laverne Cox from Orange is the New Black and Carmen Carrera from Rupaul’s Drag Race, were on Katie Couric’s show. They had, or at least I thought they had, a productive conversation about their projects and their experiences as trans women. Today, however, people across the internet are coming for Katie, accusing her of bringing up subjects that were too invasive and posing questions that are not cool to ask trans people.
The specific missteps Katie made were referring to transgender people as “transgenders” and asking, damn awkwardly, about gender reassignment surgery. During the show, Laverne and Carmen were TOTAL pros, using Katie’s questions to explain why the general public’s preoccupation with trans surgery is objectifying, adding that they’d rather talk about the extreme violence and discrimination that threaten their community.
Now, over on Salon, and all over my Facebook newsfeed, people are calling Katie clueless and basically describing her as a total asshole for not conducting a more enlightened interview. I understand the point of view that this criticism is coming from. It’s f*cking annoying (and dangerous) to not be understood by the mainstream, but, at the risk of sounding like a Selena Gomez tweet, is all the hate really going to help? Yes, Katie Couric doesn’t totally understand the trans experience, but neither do I, and neither does my cisgender Facebook friend who responded, oh so thoughtfully, “f*ck you, Katie.”
While Katie’s line of questioning is a great example of the bullsh*t that transgender people have to deal with, I also think the nature of an interview is that it’s personal and invasive. It’s Katie’s job to take the conversation to places that her guests might not feel comfortable with. So while I hope that in everyday life we can get to a place where trans people are fully understood and aren’t subjected to this type of investigation, maybe let’s not confuse transphobia with unfamiliarity?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the absolute destruction of people who are enemies of the trans community, or, for that matter, anyone who opposes social justice; I just don’t think that Katie Couric is one of those people. I’m also, frankly, f*cking bored of people who are so quick to declare themselves on the right side of an issue online, yet who do nothing IRL to advance the cause.
Obviously, the final word on this should come from Laverne and Carmen. If you check out their Twitter accounts, there’s nothing but love for Katie and excitement at the opportunity to elevate the discussion about the lives of transgender people.