Janet Mock was recently on Fusion TV's Am Tonight, where she flipped roles with host Alicia Menendez.
At the end of the AM Tonight interview, Menendez remarked that, even though she had helped write some of Mock's questions, she "didn't realize how awful and invasive some of them would feel." It's an experience that transgender people are subjected to too often in the media, and it's a lesson that news outlets would benefit a lot from remembering.
That was awful. Actually, we wrote a lot of these questions and I didn't know how awful — even when we were role playing them without you, I didn't realize how awful and invasive some of them would feel and how I'd feel now like a token.--Carlos Maza, Media Matters for America
Our lives do not end with transition. we are actual people, with careers, relationships, friendships, opinions, and experiences beyond the transformation of our bodies. Transforming our bodies, while often vital, is...in the grand scheme of things...not what defines us.
It completely mystifies me that right wingers think about our genitals more than we do. I can only imagine that they have seen or read way too much transgender porn...or that they are processing the trans experience through their own imagination...coming up with what they think they would do if they were transgender. And the fact that they almost universally come to the conclusion "sex fiend" makes me think that is what is at the base of their own personalities.
The really distressing thing is that they use this image as the basis for their ongoing attacks on us.
Mock: Some of the questions aren’t necessary. Like questions about your body—why do we need to know that?
Menendez: When I was coming into this I thought we needed to know that as a way of bridging an understanding gap. But when you have the questions turned on you, I understand how much more intimate those questions feel.
I think you're incredibly brave to be a cisgender woman in this world.Truth is, I had my surgery partly because I was not brave enough to live my life as a woman with male genitals. The other reason was that I would be able to reduce my medications...medications which could eventually harm my liver.
The video makes the important point that being trans is still seen as a deviation from the norm in American culture, and something forced to continually explain its own legitimacy, to be poked and explored with novelty and even bemusement. Of course, it is none of these, and a failure to recognize this has resulted in far too many conversations filled with reductive, invasive and dehumanizing commentary.
Being trans is not an open invitation for cis people to ask whatever they want, even if it's for the sake of learning and open-mindedness. From now on, let's all try operating from a place of empathy, not curiosity.