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.