Trans Advocate Janet Mock Questions CNN Anchor Don Lemon’s “Sensitivity Chip”
I caught myself yelling “WTF?” at the screen more than thrice in a matter of minutes. I had regretted watching this and even being excited about such a panel. I then took my frustration to Twitter: ”These questions @donlemoncnn are [asking] @Chazbono are symbolic of how #trans people are often seen as oddities – even by LGB people.”
Lemon’s questions, which could have been attributed to the show’s producers, reminded me of something Jennifer Aniston eloquently said in Vanity Fair in 2005 about Brad Pitt when he began globetrotting with Angelina Jolie and her son Maddox just weeks after announcing the end of their marriage: “There is a sensitivity chip that’s missing.”
Mock goes on to explain that being gay does not automatically make Don Lemon qualified interviewer on the topic:
It’s about preparation, sensitivity and a proper, fuller, vibrant portrait of what it means to be trans. You can’t have four dynamic trans figures on your panel and not fully tell their varying stories and journeys.
And by putting Lemon at the helm, producers may have made a glaring assumption: Just because Don Lemon is an African-American gay man does not mean he has the tools, sensitivity and objectivity to wholly report on the trans community without his own inherent transphobia and male/socioeconomic privilege getting in the way.
Finally, the People.com editor presents some of the questions she would have asked:
To Laverne Cox, who is a busy actress and produces television shows which she hopes “changes the hearts and minds of the general public around transgender issues”: How have you gone about seeking and creating roles for yourself in Hollywood? How have you funded projects about transgender people?
To America’s Next Top Model Isis King, who’s returning to the 17th cycle of ANTM in September: How does it feel to return to the show that helped bring a transgender woman into African-American homes? I hear you were once homeless, how have you been able to persevere past your circumstance?
To Harmony Santana, who revealed that she’s living in the Green Chimneys homeless shelter while being a star of a lauded film: What do you want to say to inspire LGBT kids who have dreams but no homes?
Read Janet’s full review of the segment on her blog “Food for Thought.”