The View Needs To Widen Their Scope on Jenna Talackova:
Discussing Transphobia While Being Transphobic
By Jorge Antonio Vallejos
The ladies of The View—Barbara Walters, Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, and Elisabeth Hasselbeck (Sherrie Shepherd was away)— had Miss Universe contestant Jenna Talackova grace their large green couch today. But the welcoming was not what other guests receive. There were no hugs, kisses, smiles, or yells of excitement.
Talackova was introduced and walked out looking spectacular: black heels with matching tights, and a tight white top with a yellow sweater. The crowd clapped, and the ladies of The View stood up to greet the six-foot-one model but it wasn’t a warm reception; not as warm as the guests who followed would receive.
As a friendly gesture Talackova, 23, brought fake tiaras as gifts. Whoopi Goldberg was the only host to put hers on and wear it throughout the interview. I wasn’t surprised. Whoopi, although making mistakes in the past around political views, is the most accepting person on the show.
From the get go the segment was transphobic even though the point was to explore Talackova’s battling Transphobia via being kicked out of the Miss Universe Canada pageant.
Walters, who prides herself on doing many shows on Trans kids and Trans issues, started by describing Talackova as “originally born as a man”: that’s called being Transphobic!
I recently learned that the commonly used terms “M to F” (male to female) and “F to M” (female to male) in reference to Trans peoples are no longer OK. Trans peoples are now using “Trans-feminine” and “Trans-masculine” replacing the acronyms listed above.
“Originally born as…” was never accepted, or acceptable, to my knowledge.
The assault continued via showing pre-transition photos of Talackova and then a question that you never ask a Trans person: What was your original name? Walters meant Talackova’s pre-transition name.
Talackova reluctantly whispered it.
The question every uninformed person is dying to know the answer to, and which is nobody’s business, was asked: Do you have a boyfriend, can you have sex?
Walter’s meant sex in the way that is seen as ‘normal’ and ‘natural” by transphobes.
“Yes,” answered Talackova.
So, the big boss, Walters, who prides herself on doing stories on Trans folk appears to have learned nothing over the years.
Also interesting was the lack of warmth from Behar who is a staunch supporter of queer-rights. She is always talking about the legalization of gay marriage yet she hasn’t made the connection between oppression of gays and lesbians with the oppression of Trans peoples. “Did it [hurt]?” asked Behar about Talackova’s sex re-assignment surgery as a follow to one Walters’ brilliant questions. What do you think, Joy?
Behar’s co-host Hasselbeck, a Right-Wing Christian, who has cried many a time about racism against Blacks in the U.S, can’t seem to make a connection between Racism and Transphobia. Hasselbeck looked so uncomfortable you’d think she was being forced to play Twister with Fidel Castro and Assata Shakur.
The segment was about Transphobia yet they never named the problem correctly, and they practiced Transphobia while discussing what Talackova is fighting: Transphobia.
The focus of the interview with Talackova was on the requirement in question of being a “naturally born woman” by the Miss Universe pageant. While exploring the Transphobic wording Walter’s describes Talackova as “originally born a man”.
Barbara, wake up! Do you homework!
Talackova had to prove herself many times in the short segment:
- “Since I was conscious…I’ve always been attracted to everything feminine.”
- “It was worth it,” said Talackova about her sex re-assignment surgery.
- “Now I’m the sister they’ve always dreamed of,” said Talackova about her 3 brothers
Talackova announced that she will be competing in the pageant (“Yes, I’m gonna compete.”), and her fight to change the Transphobic practices of the Miss Universe Organization around the globe.
“…very sweet,” said Walters to Talackova while patting her leg like a poodle as she ended the interview.
It was interesting to see how the next two guests, Diana Agron of the show Glee and basketball legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson, were treated. Both were welcomed in the usual way via hugs and kisses and the segments were much more relaxed. You could see that Behar and Hasselbeck felt at home again.
Agron talked a little about the fight to stop texting while driving, and Johnson talked about living with HIV. Both are very important topics and were treated with more seriousness and no othering; it wasn’t a freak show.
The View did not see the connections between all three segments: transphobia is a danger to peoples and society as is driving while texting and as is the stigma of having HIV. All three are different and vary in consequences; peoples who text while driving, or who have HIV, are not being physically assaulted or killed for who they are as is the case with Trans peoples, in particular Trans women of colour. Sill, all three are things society can, and should, do without.
Two guests, Agron and Johnson, were treated with genuine warmth, consideration, and pardon the pun, glee.
What’s interesting is that two of the quests are history makers:
1) Jenna Talackova for fighting to change transphoic policies in the Miss Universe Organization as well as being the first Transgender contestant.
2) Earvin “Magic” Johnson being the first high profile athlete/celebrity to come out with having HIV, and for bringing awareness to having a life with HIV.
Johnson is seen as an important part of society and history.
Will Talackova be treated and remembered with such respect? That’s not the view I was shown today.
If I’ve been transphobic or said anything wrong in this article please comment and let me know. Peace.
Or Trans woman/trans man.
Thanks for reading my article, for all your comments, and for the info about the horrific FOX news report.
I’m gonna check out your blogg now.
I’m glad you pointed out the difference in how they greeted the guests… I was only able to watch an excerpt online that did not include the moment when they greeted Jenna as she walked out, but I’ve had similar experiences before so I know what you’re talking about. It’s a pretty dehumanizing thing and it’s important to address that.
In reference to the birth issue, “trans-feminine” and “trans-masculine” might be useful terms in some instance, however, it might come off a bit vague as a way of addressing a trans person’s history. Rather, I would suggest “assigned male at birth” (AMAB) or “coercively assigned male at birth” (CAMAB) when talking about a trans woman. So something like, “Jenna was assigned male at birth, but she corrected this later in life” or similar. (I think it should be intuitive to replace ‘male’ with ‘female’ in the phrases above when discussing a trans man’s history).
Even those terms maybe still aren’t perfect in some ways, but they are useful in a lot of situations.
Finally I would point out that Jenna really deserves credit for what she’s done here, especially the fact that she made this about something bigger than herself all along. She made this about more than simply her individual ability to compete with the other women, she made it about all trans women being treated simply as women when it comes to this type of pageant.
That having been said, this particular issue has taken up a lot of space recently with regards to the evolving dialogue around trans issues, and some other things have unfortunately fallen a bit under the radar during that time. For another example of media bias, a trans woman, possibly a sex worker, was murdered last week in Detroit. The report from the local Fox affiliate on the killing was absolutely horrific; they actually spent more time talking about some trash someone found on their lawn rather than the death of a human being. Have a look below (warning: heavy transmisogyny):
Also, I’ve provided media analysis on the above Fox news report on my blog:
…Why should we even waste time on the VIEW? It’s soul purpose is to feature five intellectually starved bimbos – bimbo’in it out on TV.
There is transphobia and then there is …
‘transprobia’: where you draw so much focused attention (probing) on the “oooooh factor, of who is trans?! Out them by stressing how much discrimination they faced. Oh no she didn’t – who is being discriminated against again?!”
Rather, please continue efforts to report if you must focus on all the negative towards transgender people — on oh say… So many real major atrocities against innocent trans-people minding their own business who are murdered every minute in countries around the world, where making certain hand gestures or having a high pitched voice as a man would even mean instant death or life sentence!
When you funnel all that attention for those mass media / pop culture and tabloid addicts in front of their TVs and PCs, you cause unnecessary wide spread negative attention on a already shallow subject matter eg: a beauty pageant disqualification or someone rumored to be transphobic this and that. Don’t be surprised that phobes all around the globe are on the rise because you breed what they read! Sensational journalism and sensational activism is cute but it doesn’t address any of the real issues. Miss Universe beauty pageants do not represent or stand for good gender ideals, it’s only soul purpose is sex appeal period. If you are born of the sex which the pageants are targeted, then be my guest make a show out of yourselves, but if your gender identity is more important, then all the power to you — change the world through positive work which inspires proactive change rather than draw ‘fag-hag’ attention to skin surface non issues.
The mob mentality is to attack whatever the bait is that is thrown into the pit. Stop mass transprobia right now and start transpotting seeds to grow strong forests for future generations to defend! Give just as much attention to all the amazing people making tremendous difference in the world for universal compassion. So the ‘missy’ got disqualified from a prissy pageant, big flipping deal, if that is the ‘worst’ that can happen in Canada, we need a wake up call like this: GROW UP!
Jenna is also an aboriginal and her whole family is from the Lake Babine Nation indian reserve. Instead of talking about her transgendered background why don`t they talk about the fact that she is the first First Nations member to get so far in the Miss Universe contest.
I just found out Jenna is Aboriginal.
You are so right, we should be celebrating her Indigineity and that fact that she the first Native woman to be a contestant in the Miss Universe contest.
Thanks for reading the article and for your comment.
Please see some of my work I’ve done around Aboriginal women.:
uh, i like this comment…way to go Jenna….represent your Indigenous First Nations identity…and to be the first “indigenous” representative to enter and of two spirited? ok…you go girl! regardless you are a winner already, in many ways…
from an Indigenous Native Hawaiian Mahuwahine, m-t-f transgender
Thanks very much for your article. Clearly you have a sincerity that was lacking on The View. What is politically correct in terminology is constantly changing. What is important is the consideration of the commentator. This is more than evident in your article. Being a trans-lady I appreciate the effort expressed!
Cordially Yours, Kathleen
Pingback: LEARNING TO BE AN ALLY, AN ALLY IS ALWAYS WILLING TO LEARN | Black Coffee Poet
I just have to make a couple of remarks here because I think you are missing the whole point. She was on the show! That in itself is pretty amazing for trans people. Let her presence speak for itself. She is a very intelligent person and can do amazing things for the trans community. The show’s hosts all just looked stupid as they always do.
Also the terms FTM and MTF are still widely used in the community. I use “FTM” all the time and there is nothing wrong with that. Many trans people use differnet words to describe themselves–we are not all the same. I actually consider myself a man, and do not identify as “trans” but I use the term FTM sometimes.
So let the world become educated one step at a time. Trust me, when you fight against every word being used or every hug not given, you are making us look like out of control PC police and that negatively affects the whole cause.
Just my thoughts and also my experience from speaking a teaching at many colleges where non trans people have thanked me for helping them understand.
Pioneering Filmmaker, speaker and advocate
Pingback: LEARNING AS AN ALLY | Black Coffee Poet
Pingback: SHOWING UP #5: STARING BACK AT THE LOOK SO MANY PEOPLE GIVE YOU | Black Coffee Poet