Trans activist and Redefining Realness author Janet Mock focused attention on the invasive and frankly stupid nature of the questions she’s often asked during interviews last month, after she accused news anchor Piers Morgan of “sensationalizing” her life following a particularly heated discussion about her gender identity.
Mock has constantly addressed the need to begin “a discussion” about trans identity to prevent the kind of misunderstanding that breeds questions like “Do you have a vagina?” and “Why is the term ‘she-mail’ offensive?“
What Mock and fellow activist Laverne Cox have called for is a complete overhaul of the way we understand gender and sexuality (for starters, they have nothing to do with one another). “I was born a baby, not a boy” Mock told Piers Morgan in March; it’s a concept many just can’t understand.
This week, Mock turns the tables by hammering Fusion reporter Alicia Menendez with the kind of inappropriate questioning she feels she’s subjected to “even in the good interviews.”
“Who was the first person you told you were cis?” she asks, a half beat before overpowering Menendez with questions like “Do you have a vagina?” and “When did you begin to feel your breasts budding?”
Mock asks “Do you use tampons?”
“I thought we were going to talk about my show,” Menendez says.
“I think we need to get through this, though. These are just the preliminary questions,” Mock responds.
Many other journalists have been criticized for focusing their interviews with trans role models and activists around genitalia and gender reassignment surgery. This kind of questioning ultimately reduces a complex question of identity into one of physicality. But it’s tough to imagine just how invasive and humiliating those questions can be until you’re standing in their shoes.
Remember this the next time someone tells you Janet Mock is being “too sensitive.”