The Trans Moment on MSNBC

Mara Keisling writes at Huffington Post about last week’s Melissa Harris-Perry show on MSNBC where they spent an hour discussing trans issues. In addition to Keisling, from the National Center for Transgender Equality, the show featured Kate Bornstein and N.Y.C. City Council Candidate Mel Wymore.

For one of the first times that I can remember, trans people got to outline to the public at least part of the trans political agenda for ourselves. From health care access, to barriers to updating identity documents, to talking about jail and detention reform and raising awareness of CeCe McDonald’s story, we finally had a chance to bring trans issues to a national audience as trans people.

Keisling says that while the show was historic, she wishes there was more time to discuss employment discrimination and the concerns of trans people of color. Keisling also said that the real sign of acceptance of trans people is when a trans person is invited on TV to talk about something other than being trans.

I’m looking forward to the day when trans people are invited to Anderson Cooper 360Up with Chris Hayes, and The Rachel Maddow Show to talk about Wall Street reform, getting our troops out of Afghanistan, and overturning Citizens United. Right now, trans people talking about trans issues is crucial. But I believe that our exceptional progress will ultimately be marked by the moment when who we are becomes unexceptional. Getting there is going to take more people like Melissa Harris-Perry helping us raise all our voices and tell America our stories.

2 Responses

  1. While I agree that a big turning point will be when trans people are invited on TV to talk about things other than being trans, at the same time I think that being trans is and should be the topic of the moment. The truth is that the politicians are still trying to hide behind that silly “Oh, I just don’t understand that whole transgender thing so I’m not voting for (any bill that helps trans people without also casting us as sexual predators and denying us bathroom usage (ala Massachusetts))” meme.

    The reality is that even with the increase in mainstream media coverage trans people and issues have experienced over the last few years, politicians are still looking for any excuse to avoid standing up for transgender inclusive civil rights laws.

    When we’ve still got clueless on-air professionals like Don Lemon hosting a trans-relevant panel on CNN but instead of asking actress and Green Chimneys resident Harmony Santana about how and why she became homeless, he’s asking Chaz Bono what it feels like shave, you know there’s still a very big problem in how trans people and the issues that impact our lives are covered in the mainstream media.

    The MHP show was a good start, but we’ve got a long way to go in defining who and what we are to the public at large, and a mainstream media that as yet still isn’t making much of an effort to help in that. In fact, some don’t even bother to do proper show prep to ensure that they don’t misinform their audiences, as in the case of Ed Schultz when he asked his “trans expert” Mike Rogers (who is neither trans nor an expert) if the negativity directed toward Chaz Bono, a heterosexual trans man, during his “Dancing With The Stars” appearances was gaybashing.

    When some mainstream news hosts still can’t even tell the difference between gay and transgender people, you know there’s still a lot of work to be done in terms of education on trans people and issues, both in front of and behind the camera.

  2. While I agree that a big turning point will be when trans people are invited on TV to talk about things other than being trans, at the same time I think that being trans is and should be the topic of the moment. The truth is that the politicians are still trying to hide behind that silly “Oh, I just don’t understand that whole transgender thing so I’m not voting for (any bill that helps trans people without also casting us as sexual predators and denying us bathroom usage (ala Massachusetts))” meme.

    The reality is that even with the increase in mainstream media coverage trans people and issues have experienced over the last few years, politicians are still looking for any excuse to avoid standing up for transgender inclusive civil rights laws.

    When we’ve still got clueless on-air professionals like Don Lemon hosting a trans-relevant panel on CNN but instead of asking actress and Green Chimneys resident Harmony Santana about how and why she became homeless, he’s asking Chaz Bono what it feels like shave, you know there’s still a very big problem in how trans people and the issues that impact our lives are covered in the mainstream media.

    The MHP show was a good start, but we’ve got a long way to go in defining who and what we are to the public at large, and a mainstream media that as yet still isn’t making much of an effort to help in that. In fact, some don’t even bother to do proper show prep to ensure that they don’t misinform their audiences, as in the case of Ed Schultz when he asked his “trans expert” Mike Rogers (who is neither trans nor an expert) if the negativity directed toward Chaz Bono, a heterosexual trans man, during his “Dancing With The Stars” appearances was gaybashing.

    When some mainstream news hosts still can’t even tell the difference between gay and transgender people, you know there’s still a lot of work to be done in terms of education on trans people and issues, both in front of and behind the camera.

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