Katie Couric is normally quite good at interviewing people. She’s an overwhelmingly inoffensive, pleasant-seeming person
But, on a recent episode of her daytime talk show, Katie, things went a little awry.
The episode was titled ‘Transgender Trailblazers’. It featured two incredibly successful transgender women: Orange is the New Black star Laverne Cox, and model Carmen Carrera. Carrera was first cab off the rank.
The interview began swimmingly, with a discussion of Carrera’s modelling career. But it all came to a grinding halt when Couric decided that it would be appropriate to enquire as to what Carrera’s genitals looked like:
Then it was Laverne Cox’s turn.
Despite Carrara’s reaction (which is beautifully summarised in a cutaway shot at 02:28 in this next clip), Couric persisted with her genital line of questioning. After Carrera had already explained to her why she, and other trans people, felt uncomfortable being made to graphically explain what was in their undies. Luckily, Cox had a perfectly dignified response ready.
Take a look:
Needless to say, the interview went viral online. Here’s a brief summary of the reactions
Cox — rather than pointing out that a.) she is not an item in a curiosity shop, b.) it’s up to cisgender people to educate themselves in their own private time and c.) hasn’t anyone in this room fucking heard of Google before — gave an eloquent and well-rounded answer as to why it’s so hurtful to trans women (and the community at large) when you choose to only focus on their surgery.
Katie Couric was schooled by transgender actress Laverne Cox and transgender reality star/model Carmen Carerra on her daytime talk show Katie Monday when she began asking invasive questions about the women’s genitalia.
Hopefully, as more and more resources are available, people won’t feel so comfortable asking strangers about what surgeries they’ve had and what their genitals look like. Trans people are more than just our bodies, and these two women showed that in the absolute best way possible.
But the question remains: is any dialogue surrounding transgender people in the community better than no dialogue at all?
In her defence, Couric’s audience – and the majority of people, to be honest – are probably not as well informed about transgender issues as the internet commenters who tore the interview to shreds were.
Cox wrote the following on Tumblr, after her interview with Couric went viral:
I am so deeply moved by the dialogues that are happening around my appearance with Carmen Carrera on “The Katie Show” on Monday. It is my dream that by highlighting the deep humanity of trans people’s lives in the media, elevating actual trans voices to speak the truth of our lived experiences in ways that don’t sensationalize and objectify us, those human voices and stories can be a part of the disruption needed to end the disproportionate injustices that threaten so many trans people’s lives, particularly the lives of trans women of color. It is a state of emergency for far too many trans people across this country. The stories of women like Islan Nettles and CeCe McDonald are far too commonplace in our community.
I look forward to engaging in more dialogues about the complicated intersectional issues around these injustices and ways to make them a thing of the past. I am so grateful to Katie Couric and her show for the opportunity to highlight these important issues.