Katie Couric Responds To Controversy Over Invasive Question About Transgender Guest

 

Earlier this week, transgender icons Carmen Carrera, best known for starring on “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” and “Orange Is The New Black” star Laverne Cox dropped by Katie Couric’s talk show to discuss their careers and issues relating to the transgender community.
However, when Couric asked Carerra about her “private parts,” the show took a turn away from focusing on the lives of these “possibility models,” as Cox so eloquently put it, to scrutinizing their bodies, an all too common situation which plagues trans people both in the media and in every day life.
Carerra and Cox responded beautifully to Couric’s unfortunate line of questioning, both on the show and in the aftermath of its airing, which had already triggered outraged responses across the Internet.
“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,” Cox wrote, in part, on her Tumblr blog.
Now Couric herself is responding to claims that her question was invasive, ignorant and demonstrative of everything that is wrong with how mainstream media attempts to cover transgender people and issues.
In a video clip entitled “Follow Up Friday: Interracial Relationships, Carmen Carrera & Laverne Cox,” Couric notes:

 “Even if some thought my question was off base, I wanted to make sure my question and Carmen’s answer stayed in the show as a teachable moment for me, as well as our viewers. I’m really proud we were able to spotlight such an open and honest conversation with Carmen and Laverne Cox, who are both terrific, about the myriad of struggles that this often maligned, marginalized and misunderstood community faces.

 

Also see:

Katie Couric’s offensive interview reveals need for transgender visibility

The Fatal Transgender Double Standard

Heather Cassils

Heather Cassils: the transgender bodybuilder who attacks heaps of clay. Through martial arts, weight training and diet, Cassils has redefined the female body – and made it into performance art.

Read the full story at TheGuardian. I found it to be fascinating and informative. 

Here are pictures of the artist at work:

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Visible Bodies: Transgender Narratives Retold

Found this story on Advocate.

Visible Bodies: Transgender Narratives Retold

San Diego is helping rewrite the way stories about transgender people are told, through an exhibit of more than 30 portraits of people in the local transgender community.

For more information on Visible Bodies, visit the project’s Facebook page.

If It Walks Like A…

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I once wrote a post about how I thought I would look fully presenting as female. If I remember correctly, it was before I bought my first wig, when I had only a few items in my wardrobe. I saw myself, both in my mind and the mirror as impossibly ugly.

This was, I believe, one of the reasons I didn’t get the courage to go full time when I was younger. I was able to convince myself I would be ridiculed as soon as I stepped out of the door.

Remembering those times, and thinking about the fears I still harbor, I realized something.

Too often, when speaking about Trans* people, our critics tend to think in terms of; if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck and quacks like a duck then it must be a duck. When in truth they, and we, should be thinking in terms of the ugly duckling.

Given the chance we can show ourselves to be breath taking swans.

A Lesson Learned

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I know this is going to seem sudden. A few short days ago I couldn’t imagine writing this months from now, if ever. But I have learned there are things we cannot fully understand, even about ourselves.

Over the past weeks and months I felt a growing drive, a desire to go “full time”. The stress of trying maintain a dual life was simply becoming too much. I reached a point where I knew I was going to have to make a decision; either take the next step and watch my world come crashing down or surrender and return to living life as male.

I know there are those who will think me foolish but I chose the latter. I thought I understood what I was accepting in making this decision. I thought I knew the cost and I was willing to pay it to spare those close to me, at least as much as I could.

What I failed to understand is just how much has changed. I have said I am not the person I was… Such a naive understatement…
Not only am I not that person who went before, I am incapable of even connecting with that person. Not mentally, not emotionally. We share memories, a common past, but I have no doubt we are two different people…

There is no going back.

Ever.

When I wrote about my decision, I was determined to never post here again. I was going to purge my computer and clear out the closet. I was going to erase a year of my life. Later that day I hugged my children and told A I loved her. They didn’t understand but I knew. I didn’t expect to live to see my next birthday, never mind the end of the year. It wasn’t a matter of if but when. As I said, I knew the price I would pay. I went to sleep, exhausted. When I woke and got ready for work, I did so in full male mode for the first time in almost a year.

I spent the following eight hours and more trying to find the person I had been, the mask I had worn for so many years. They were beyond my grasp. I tried to push myself over a mental and emotional cliff only to find it doesn’t exist. It seems I have embraced these things and made peace with them without realizing what I had done. I have a mixture of surprise and relief at finally coming to this realization.

Where I am left is with the knowledge I have had all along, which I have spoken of without fully grasping what it truly means. I am the same person regardless of how I choose to present, of what name I am called by or what pronouns are used. Everything else is an annoyance, not a life stopping event.
Yes, I would rather be seen and accepted as who I truly am. I am more comfortable in my skin when I can be myself, but if I can’t do so twenty four seven, it changes nothing.

Finally understanding this has freed me from a weight I placed on myself. It frees me from the pressure which was driving me to be seen as myself by others, to have their approval and understanding when in truth it is my own approval and understanding I need.

I needed to do this one thing, something I was never able to do before…Love myself, warts and all.

I guess thinking so damn much can sometimes be a good thing!

I’m beginning to think someone is trying to tell me something…

Have you ever made a major, life altering, decision only to then have all sorts of things suddenly seem to be speaking directly to you? If not, let me share a few examples…

First song to play in iTunes; “Refugee” by Tom Petty… “ Everybody’s had to fight to be free.”

 

Then this line from my favorite webcomic; “ Oh,  my! We do appreciate the thought, but it’s really much too late! So sorry!”

 

Then this from Simple Pleasures

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I’m beginning to think someone is trying to tell me something…

With A Wimper

I am writing this not because I wish to but that I must. I know, when I am finished and this is posted, I will regret having done so, but it can join the host of greater regrets which weigh upon my heart.

I have been through much since I first began this blog. More than I could have imagined. Yet I know there are many women who have gone through the same and much worse, yet they have done what I know I cannot. They pushed through their darkest moments and reached for their dreams. Refusing to back down no matter how great the cost.

I have been told I am strong, brave, courageous. I am none of those things. I am a coward. Afraid to risk everything to be true to myself. If you want to look up to someone, look up to them, not me. I don’t deserve it.

As time has passed and this road has carried me further along, I began to fear where I would find myself.

That first night A asked me if I needed to be a “real” woman. I knew she meant going through surgery, I told her no and that is still true at this moment, but I also thought I would never want to go even part time outside of our home. I couldn’t imagine going out that door as a woman. Now I have been out and the desire to do so is growing. Not for holidays or special events, but every day. I know now what it means to be my true self, to be seen and accepted as the person I have always been and anything less is becoming more than I can stand.

I think I knew, deep in my heart, I would find myself at this point, facing this decision. To either except this truth about myself or to turn back and except what I know will be a pain filled, difficult life, but one with which I am familiar. This isn’t about self sacrifice. This is the cowards way.

They say the first time you give up is the hardest, it gets easier after that. It’s true. At one point or another I have given up on hopes, dreams, desires… everything, even life.

This is just one more.

I don’t know if I am going to continue to post or not. After this I doubt any one is going to care what I have to say and I can’t blame anyone for leaving. I really don’t know what I could ever say again that might matter…

Night Owl

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I have always loved night time. I use to tell myself this was because it reflected my soul. Deep, dark, quiet. I told myself I would rather walk alone. Now? Well, I just seem more creative in the wee hours; there is something about this time when my mind is clearest, even when I am an emotional mess.

Of course, things don’t always work the way I would like… Now is a good example. I have thoughts and ideas for my WIP I just can’t get out. Which is why I am sitting here procrastinating, going through my music collection, reading other peoples posts, trying to get something moving. Why I am writing this rambling post.

There are times when I simply cannot understand myself. There are things which upset, which bring me to the verge of depression, bring on angry outbursts or simply muttering to myself and yet, I find myself just hours later waking up thinking things are going to be better. That some how, they are going to either work out or fade into the background and I will be able to continue on as if nothing had happened. Some people would say I was an optimist, I think I just don’t learn. 

Every day I go through emotional ups and downs, times when I want to laugh, scream, or cry until there are no tears left. Then I sleep and when I wake up, I have pushed those things to the back of my thoughts and I go through them all over again… 

My transition has been the same way. There are times when I believe I can move forward and then the thoughts and fears come back and I know I am destained to forever be trapped in the reality I have crafted for myself. As the saying goes, I have made my bed and now I have to sleep in it. There is a level where I am resigned to this, but there is another where I still hope and dream. I know there are many others who find themselves facing the same dilemma, those who, for their own reasons, find transitioning to be more of a mental exercise and not something outward. Some of them are fine with this, then there are those like myself who find it confusing, bruising, and confining. 

I have days when going about in boy mode isn’t a great experience, but not so terrible either, then there are days when it drives me absolutely crazy. Times when I don’t think about this skin I am wearing and others when I wish I was a snake so I could shed it and walk away. There are days when I dream as a boy and others as a girl, sometimes I wake up and think nothing of this and others when, having seen myself as male, I want to run and take a shower… I so violated. 

I know someone is going to read this, shaking their head, say to themselves this is proof I am confused or crazy or delusional and maybe they’re right. I have been told so before. After my suicide attempt I had a doctor tell me I was suicidal, an alcoholic. He said I had coping issues, I had a borderline personality disorder. I was emotionally unstable… In other words I needed lots of medications and to be kept in a controlled environment for my own safety… then they gave me a bunch of bottles and cut me loose after just three days…. 

Now I am back in therapy and I don’t know what to think. I know she is there to help me figure things out, to find a place where I can live in peace with myself She has no reason to tell me something just to be nice to me, to make me feel better about myself. Yet this is something I fear. She has spoken of seeing in me something more feminine, in not feeling as if I am presenting as fully male… My walk, the way I hold myself, the way I sit. The way I speak, my mannerisms, all these things and more. She has spoken of how, when I came to my appointment fully presenting as female, it seemed completely natural to the point she soon forgot she was suppose to be talking to a “him” and not a “her”. 

She noted I was very aware of how I carried myself, how I was walking, how I was talking, just how I was presenting myself overall. 

I want to believe her. I want to think even when I am in “boy” mode, there is still more of the “her” to me than the “him.” I want to believe I can be seen by the world as I so often see myself. 

This isn’t about “passing”, when I have been out, this has never even crossed my mind. It isn’t a matter of being seen as believable, it is being seen as ME. Sure I would like for people to not even think of me as a “guy in a dress”, or as a joke, as a fool, as a clown, as someone trying to play a part. This isn’t acting, this isn’t pretending, this isn’t make-believe. I want people to not judge me as male or female but simply as myself no matter how I might be presenting.

I just want to be me.

Rest In Peace

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There are times when I wish it was easier to express emotions through writing. I know of course this is something which is done every day… great writers seem to invoke a powerful response with just a few well chosen words, but I am not one of them. There are times such as this when I struggle to find the words to express even the smallest part of what I am feeling.

I have spoken of reaching a “low” point. Clearly this does little to express the depth of my thoughts and emotions during some points in my day to day efforts to deal with with things. Maybe I am deliberately glossing over things, trying to make light of what is really something more serious than I am willing to admit even to myself. Then again, there are times I simply don’t want to burden others with my problems. I seem to cause enough problems without deliberately adding to them.

But this once, I would like to try and share some of my thoughts, some of these emotions that have me here, typing all of these words while there are tears in my eyes and an ache in my heart, because, maybe, just maybe, there is someone else who is feeling the same, having the same thoughts, who could use knowing they are not alone in this moment.

I was luck enough to have someone to talk to last night when this was hardest to deal with alone. A friend who was willing to lend me an ear to listen, an arm to lean on when I needed it more than I wanted to admit. I know not everyone has someone like that and I cannot tell you how thankful I am that I do,

More and more, as the days have passed, I have found my thoughts turning to what it would mean to be able to live openly. To be able to go about my day, doing the most mundane of things as myself, being accepted… or just ignored. To walk down the street, to go shopping, to just sitting at the computer without thought of hiding. To be able to simply breath without thinking.  It isn’t about “passing” because such things simply don’t matter any more. 

Last night these thoughts suddenly flared into facing a fear I have managed to sidestep to this point, to down play because I wanted to convince myself it didn’t matter. But it does.

I realized I was afraid of dying without having lived as myself. Of having who I was truly was for ever lost behind a name carved on a piece of rock that wasn’t “my” name. Who would look at it an know the truth it concealed? Who would remember the woman I was? 

I don’t know how to explain what I feel when faced with this possibility. The understanding that one simple twist of fate could erase me in a blink.

There has been so much discussion, so much anger and argument over the issue of “privilege”. So many harsh words exchanged over nothing more than words. Pointless puffs of air no one will remember. Well, this is what privilege looks like… It is knowing if you die, it will be your name on a piece of rock. Your name in the paper. Your name people will remember and speak of. It will be you people think of with love, with fondness, with anger and spite. It will be you as expressed by such a simple thing that will encompass a life lived.

I may never have that.   

From Therapy

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I would like to apologize, this is going to be my most poorly written post yet, but I can’t get my thoughts organized enough to share anything in any other way…

What follows is my memories and impressions and thoughts from my latest session. Everything is paraphrased or simply what I remember, but I’m not able to give direct quotes, my memory isn’t good enough.

She said she was surprised I came to our last session presenting as female, until then I had only come as male, but it wasn’t long before it became something she didn’t even notice. My appearance and interaction with her was simply natural. The way I sat there, the way I talked, my mannerisms were essentially the same.

Which lead to this observation… Until then she had seen me as a male with many feminine qualities, then she saw me as a female with a few masculine qualities.

What was important to her was the way I felt.

She talked about discussing my issues with some of the other consulars. specifically my coming to a session in femme, (she made a point of telling me no names are used), and that during these conversations one of the male consulars referred to me as “he”, which she corrected with “she”.

(I wasn’t surprised by this, I knew there was shop talk. In fact, I assumed it was happening.)

We spoke of my conversation with one of the ladies I have come out to and how amazing it felt to just talk with someone without having to worry about being judged, how such freedom lead to the type of conversation… the “girl talk” some part of has craved for as long as I can remember… How I felt comfortable, happy, and not self conscience.

We spoke of how much she admired me for putting those around me before myself, for working so hard, struggling to walk a line at such personal cost. I told her then and it is true now, her words made me blush….

We spoke of my last poem and some of the meanings it contained and how they related to my internal struggles.

We spoke of things which might concern me in regards to how others see me, if the possibility of being seen as a too feminine male might be a problem. It isn’t, I have reached a point where it just doesn’t concern me any more, people are going to think what they wish regardless of what I say or do. Part of this is my having the chance to be in public as I myself. Before, this was a concern, but now… now I have had a taste of freedom and it washed away much of my fear in this regard. Do I want to be outted? No, of course not, but it isn’t something I cannot over come.

We spoke of my manuscript, of how it is a means to deal with the serious, powerful emotional issues I was going through at the time, and even now it remains a trigger for me, but coming back and dealing with this now is a good thing to do.

The last thing was talking about what we both need to think about in regards to going forward to our next session. These are things dealing with my own vision of myself as opposed to the reality of how others see me, of thinking of ways in which I can incorporate more of those things which make me feel comfortable with myself into my public persona, things which I would be aware of but most people wouldn’t notice. I am doing some already, letting my hair grow longer, doing my nails using clear strengthener, using more skin products to improve my natural appearance. I will eventually change my glasses to more unisex frames, get at least one ear re-pierced, maybe a little more jewelry.

The hard part, as it has always been, is to continue to work on my self image. My own sense of worth. To be able to look at myself, regardless of everything else, and see my true self looking back at me.