A former boss of mine who I adore had a saying that he used when some complication of success occurred. He’d say: “Good problems to have.” (This might apply to a restaurant that ran out of room to hold customers waiting to dine.)
Such is the case for those of us in the Transgender community with the recent on-air “boo boos” by Katie Couric and most recently Piers Morgan. While we would all prefer that news professionals would do their homework regarding their interview subjects, the fact that members of our community are even being interviewed is a huge advance.
Suddenly, Transgender people are part of the conversation.
Yes, we are still mostly misunderstood and the line of questioning is aimed at our crotch and not our hearts. That will change in time. But the big news is that we are becoming news.
For far too long we were relegated to the Jerry Springer Show or punch lines on sit coms. We have been marginalized and mocked and never had the critical mass to do anything about it.
That is changing.
Yesterday, Twitter was on fire with sharply written comments directed at Piers Morgan for what really amounted to not doing his homework. He was impolite in how Janet Mock was referenced on a few occasions. The most egregious error was the graphic on the screen the whole time that read: “Was a man until the age of 18.” Not only was that rude and insensitive, it was also inaccurate.
The Twitter storm worked though and Piers had Janet on his show a second night to discuss just what got the Twitterverse so upset.
I don’t know if anything is going to get through the thick skull of Morgan, but I hope he understands that a little courtesy and respect will go a long way.
Here’s the rub –
As a member of the Transgender community, I see real value and hope in the on air interviewing of high profile members of our community. Janet Mock, Laverne Cox, Carmen Carrera and Jenny Boylan represent themselves and by proxy, us, very well. It’s important that interviewers don’t feel like it’s a no-win situation if they talk to us.
It’s a fine line to walk – it remains important to educate the mass-media in what is appropriate and what isn’t – and surely it’s incumbent upon them to maybe do a little research into the subject they are talking about. But it is also important for us to pick our battles, especially in the early stages. We don’t want to send the message that no matter what is asked, we are going to find something to nit pick and then deluge the interviewer with complaints.
Let’s be equally active when a host or interviewer gets it right. Let’s praise what we like and try and gently educate those who slip up.
Ignorance can be fixed – willful ignorance or hate will not be tolerated.
So in the last 3 weeks, we have had slip ups from major network hosts as they interviewed high profile members of the Transgender community. (Let that statement sink in for a minute) In most cases, the interviewer or celeb tried to make it right. Chalk it up to growing pains. We are finally in the conversation!
Good problems to have.