Katie Couric didn't get exactly what she bargained for when she invited two celebrity transgender women onto her show.
Although originally billed as a platform for two transgender women so they could speak openly to a wide segment of mainstream America, Katie Couric's interview of Carmen Carrera, a transgender model who previously appeared on RuPaul's Drag Race, and Laverne Cox, a transgender actress playing an incarcerated transgender woman on the Netflix original series Orange is the New Black, turned into something more like an inquisition which focused largely on the physical aspects of transition, and specifically on sex reassignment surgery. It didn't go well... For Couric.
Although both Carrera and Cox were asked about their takes on trans women's privacy concerning our genitals which clearly invited the two to discuss the subject in detail, both deflected the question with ease. In the case of Carrera, by physically shushing Couric as she tried to steer the interview in a way which typically makes trans women uncomfortable. Especially when we are trying to be open about our lived experiences with cisgender people. I won't deny, I did a little cheer and clapped.
Couric tried again by addressing the question to Cox and asking her if she approached the subject the same way. Here's what she had to say:
And I think that the preoccupation with surgery objectifies trans women, and then we really, really don't get to deal with the lived experiences. The reality of trans people's lives is that so often we're the targets of violence; we experience rates of discrimination disproportionately to the rest of the community.
Cox went on to speak about the economic and work place issues trans people face and that a focus on "medical transition" and "surgeries" really prevents us from speaking about these issues, the issues that confront trans people like me every single day. The statistics she threw out were astounding, double the national unemployment, make that quadruple if you are of color. Violence against the LGBTQ community is highest amongst trans women. And let's be honest, victims are usually trans women of color.
When we talk about transition, we don't actually get to talk about those things.
Exactly. Stop talking about what's in our pants, and start talking about what we can all do to make the lives of trans people easier.