Monday, 13 January 2014

Can Media Please Stop Focusing on Trans People's Bodies?

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Discussing the violence that trans women — particularly trans women of color — are often subjected to, Cox touched on the case of Islan Nettles, a New York trans woman. Nettles was murdered last year after her assailant realized that the woman he was catcalling was transgender, and she is just one of many trans women who have dealt with that kind of brutality, and often without justice.

That's when Cox uttered a line so concise and pointed that it was absolutely perfect: “By focusing on bodies, we don’t focus on the lived realities of that oppression and that discrimination.”

This quote speaks to the heart of so many issues trans people face on a regular basis. So often, we’re treated as nothing more than body parts. Our lives are ignored, our accomplishments diminished, and we’re left being seen as “the freak” someone can book on a struggling daytime talk show in an effort to boost ratings. (It was announced last month that Couric’s show will not return for a third season.)

Unless you are the doctor or a lover of a trans person, the state of their genitals is of no consequence to you. In my everyday life, as a transgender woman, exactly zero people see my genitals. I can’t speak to whether cisgender people tend to go through their days showing each other their downstairs business, but in my life, no, that’s not part of my day-to-day.

Journalists like Couric should know better. After all, when she had Regis Philbin on last week, she didn’t ask him about the condition of his prostate. When Lauren Conrad appeared on the show in December, Couric didn’t ask the date of her last visit to her ob-gyn. When Hugh Jackman made an appearance last year, Couric didn’t question him on the topic of kidney stones. Why? Because one’s medical information, whether the person is transgender or not, is none of her business.

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