On Monday January 7th model Carmen Carrera and actor Laverne Cox, appeared on Katie Couric’s talk show Katie.
Carrera and Cox were there to discuss their work. Carrera as a model and her appearances on Rupaul’s Drag Race and Cox for her work her work on Orange is the New Black.
Couric didn’t ask many question about the women’s acting and modeling work, instead focusing on invasive disrespectful questions about their genitalia.
Mey on Autostraddle.com posted a widely circulated article about their appearance:
Unfortunately, that’s when Katie got back on the surgery track. Couric explained that she just wants to be educated and that a lot of people are curious because they’re “not familiar with transgenders.” She told Cox that Carrera had “recoiled” when asked about surgery and said that cis people are preoccupied with “the genitalia question.” Couric wondered if Cox felt the same way about that question and about cis people’s attitudes towards trans women. As soon as Cox started telling her that, yes, she keeps her private parts private and that cis people do have an obsession with trans women’s genitalia, she really started picking up steam. Cox said that the preoccupation with genitalia and transition objectifies trans women and distracts us from the real issues.
Cox brought up the facts that trans women face absurdly high lives of homelessness, violent crime, discrimination and poverty. Then Cox hit it out of the park when she said, “by focusing on bodies we don’t focus on the lived realities of that oppression and that discrimination.”
Laverne Cox wrote a statement on her tubmlr about the Katie appearance:
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. It is a state of emergency for far too many trans people across this country. The stories of women like Islan Nettles and CeCe McDonald are far too commonplace in our community. I look forward to engaging in more dialogues about the complicated intersectional issues around these injustices and ways to make them a thing of the past.
Laverne Cox was also equally fabulous on NPR’s Pop Culture blog:
On acting while black and transgender
“It’s hard. The issue of not just being trans, but also being a woman, and it’s being black. And the industry historically doesn’t think that we are marketable, or they want to cast us in very limited ways. But I think that the wonderful lessons that Orange Is the New Black is teaching us is that it shows our industry — the entertainment industry — that you can cast women of different races, you can cast different ages and body types, and folks will tune in and be interested. And the public is craving that.”
On prostitute roles
“When folks want to write a trans character, the first thing that they think of is sex work. And part of the reason is that the most visibility, really, that trans folk get is through sex work. And then there is also crazy unemployment rates among transgender people; it’s like twice the national average. If you’re a trans person of color, it’s four times the national average. So, so often the only job opportunities presented for trans folks are in street economies, including sex work. Obviously there are lots of trans women who don’t do sex work, who have all kinds of professions.”
Cox is also producing a documentary Free CeCe about CeCe McDonald who was sentenced to a 41 month sentence for defending herself against a racist transphobic attack:
“But for the grace of God I could be CeCe McDonald. CeCe’s case represents a long list of instances of violence against transgender women who are disproportionately trans women of color.” – Laverne Cox
CeCe McDonald was released from jail yesterday!