| SARA ERNEST
DO YOU THINK it’s appropriate to ask a woman you don’t know about her lady parts? Would you get offended if this stranger is offended by your questions? Would you consider asking these questions on national television? Would you answer any of these questions differently if the woman you were talking to was transgender?
Recently, Katie Couric answered these questions with a “yes” and made a national spectacle on her talk show. The story has gotten more press than I expected, but I’m sure there are many people who still don’t know, so briefly, we’ll recap and discuss.
In her answers, Cox eloquently and with immense class reminded Couric that by focusing on the question of what a trans person’s genitalia looks like, we are objectifying their bodies and pulling the focus from the things that matter, like the rate of violence against transgender women of color that is significantly higher than that faced by the community at large.
Over the past year or so, the number of trans people in my life has significantly increased and I consider that to be a blessing. As discussed in my Pride column, I have not always been as educated on or open to the issues faced by the trans community. Every new person that comes into my life, transgender or cisgender, affords me the opportunity to learn something new. With that being said, I can understand Couric’s curiosity about the physical aspects of something that so many people know so little about. My advice: Do some research and get to really know a transgender person. Maybe then you will realize how you are being offensive.
I’m sure Couric looked at this as a teachable moment and thought she was doing a service to the trans community by giving cisgender people more information than they had before watching the show. What she failed to take into consideration was the fact that her guests were women with feelings and a desire to keep their private parts private.
Humans are naturally curious. We want to know about experiences that are different from our own. It seems that many people fail to consider when talking to trans people and discussing their issues and struggles that they are people. Regardless of whatever modifications they had to make to their bodies to live their truths, they are people. With feelings. What gives us the right to look at a transperson as anything less?
When we focus on the ways we are different from any group of people, it makes it exceedingly difficult to see how we are similar.