Trans Groups Furious At Anderson Cooper For Exploitative Talk-Show Segment

When Anderson Cooper promised changes were coming when his eponymous talk show returned from summer hiatus, we thought maybe the newly out silver fox would be talking about his private life or taking a more personal stance on the issues.

We didn’t think he be rebranding himself as Jerry Springer 2.0.

Yesterday on Anderson Live, Cooper welcomed a married, heterosexual man who claims he began identifying as a trans woman after starting a hair-loss treatment. Now known as Mandi, the guest was joined by her ex-wife, Michelle, who opens up about how Mandi’s transformation has affected their son.

A segment about how transitioning can affect a family is certainly a worth topic, but one that suggests it was Daddy’s Rogaine that made him want to be a woman is trashy and irresponsible.

It was only December that Cooper did a respectful and informative segment on trans children and their parents.

“[We] are surprised, saddened and disappointed that a respected show like Anderson Live would give credence to this type of sensationalism and misinformation. This segment is just another case of sensationalizing an already marginalized population plain and simple,” said National Center for Transgender Equality director Mara Keisling in a statement. “In the past, Anderson Cooper and his team have earned a great deal of respect from trans people for their coverage of our issues. [Today], they’ll throw all of that away. Worst of all, they seem set on misinforming the public about the causality of trans identity.”

The episode description on the Anderson Live site claims Mandi was invited, “not to give the impression that what she says is what every transgender person goes through, but because everyone has their own experience, and we want to respect each and every person’s story.”

But trans entertainment editor Janet Mock was not having it: On Twitter, she responded, “WTF?! Is this Anderson or Jerry Springer/Maury?”

Good question, Janet.

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  • keoki3

    Anderson is a far cry from Maury or Jerry Springer. They sometimes have entertaining shows, albeit crude, tasteless, and more often raunchy!

    Inaddition, I still object to the “T” in LGBT. I cannot see the correlation between people with body dysmorphic disorder, or transexuality, and sexual orientation. I’m sensitive to their issues and mean no disrespect, but as a gay man, I don’t see where the the two intersect.


  • keoki3

    Anderson is a far cry from Maury or Jerry Springer. They sometimes have entertaining shows, albeit crude, tasteless, and more often raunchy!

    In addition, I still object to the “T” in LGBT. I cannot see the correlation between people with body dysmorphic disorder, or transexuality, and sexual orientation. I’m sensitive to their issues and mean no disrespect, but as a gay man, I don’t see where the the two intersect.


  • JennyDreadful

    Body dysmorphia and gender dysphoria are two very different things.

    In general (there are always exceptions) people with body dysmorphic disorder can experience extreme unhappiness their body as a whole, but more often with specific aspects of their perceived outward appearance (weight, facial features) and the dissatisfaction felt has nothing to do with gender or sexuality.

    Again, in general, people with gender dysphoria perceive a difference in their biological sex and the one felt as true or real, whether that is male to female, female to male, or a gender that blurs those more fixed identities.

    I strongly believe the T belongs in LGBT, as well as Q (queer/questioning) and many other additions. There are many reasons, but the one I am going to use for the sake of brevity is that ours should be an INCLUSIVE community, welcoming anyone who shares our concerns and struggles as well as our joys and triumphs.

  • niles

    These groups live in a constant state of fury about one thing or another.

  • Aidan8

    Is it just me, or does anyone else kinda get the feeling this is bogus? Just from the short clip, something seems “off” about the guest. Mental illness? A total fake? Or it could be that s/he is totally real. Anyone else getting this sense from the clip?

  • keoki3

    @JennyDreadful: Thanks for the info. Interesting.

  • kumquatboy

    Did anybody actually watch the segment? Not only did Anderson say SEVERAL TIMES that this is not the typical Transgendered experience, but he also noted SEVERAL TIMES (so many times that I found it annoying) that many transgendered groups were outraged with his claim, found the story to be fake or sensationalized, and so forth. He basically put a big huge disclaimer all over this, but of course, people still have to be pissed off.

  • yaoming

    Seems kind of bogus to me, but so what? AC wasn’t presenting it as news. the guy just wanted to wear a wig on TV.
    I’m also with the first (and second) poster above. i’ve never heard a good explaination of why the T is included with GLB. We have different sexual orientations from the majority population. Ts have different genders (from their own bodies). Doesn’t really seem related to me.

  • muscl954

    C’mon, Anderson. You are better than this! If you are going to do a talk show, do one with relevence – not exploitation or headline grabbing. Show the class you were raised with.

  • BJ McFrisky

    Dude, I am with you all the way. It’s one of the reasons I correct anyone who lumps me in with the LGBT cause, because I’m not a lesbian, I’m not bisexual, and I’m not a woman trapped in a man’s body. I’m a gay man, not an LGBTer. Unlike some minorities, I’m not going to change the label of an entire demographic every time a new cause comes along. A white teenager who likes rap music might like to think of himself as being black—but that doesn’t make it so. So yes, there are many of us who are uncomfortable being affiliated with transvestites and transexuals, and feel that it’s a different issue altogether.

    Regarding the Cooper episode, he and his producers want one thing above all else: ratings. People often forget that, and think Cooper hosts a PSA, and when he steps off the gay plantation, God help him. He’s got the wrath of the LGBTers on his ass.

    I understand your reasoning, but disagree. If we begin to include anyone who has an issue with sexuality, we’re inviting fringes such as pedophilia, incest and beastiality, and you can best believe that when LGBT becomes LGBTPIB, we will lose all support from everyone—worldwide.

  • kevininbuffalo

    The trans people always have their panties in a knot. They’ll get over it. I agree with some of the other posters, the T doesn’t belong in GBL.

  • jim2008

    Anderson Cooper should pull the plug on this show as soon as possible. It is ruining his image as a serious journalist.

  • hephaestion

    This was a poor choice for a guest.

    Anderson needs to fire the person selecting guests for him.

  • Dumdum

    @JennyDreadful: I totally agree.However I will admit as a Gay man Transgendered people made me uncomfortable.I just could not understand how a perfectly nice guy or woman would not be OK with wanting to be with a person of the same sex.A man has gender reassignment surgery to become a heterosexual woman? I just could not wrap my mind around it.And let’s be honest here quite a number still look and sound like a man.And Chaz Bono’s weight doesn’t look very healthy.So it begs the question,why not just be a Gay man or a Lesbian? Because they are happier.These people must go through extensive and exhaustive psychotherapy,and that’s just the beginning.I watched the entire episode of Anderson Live,and he presented all the facts and stated throughout the show that this case was not normal.The clip shown here is very misleading.We live in a world over-run with idiots and they all watch television.This is self evident by such shows as honey boo boo child,keeping up with the Kardashians,and the myriad of mindless mediocre pablum (and they are legion) that passes for entertainment these days.So get off Coopers back the show was better than most and no animals were harmed in the filming of this show,except may the guy with bad make up and an even worse wig.

  • Dumdum

    If anyone should be on Anderson’s back it should be me. He’s very sexy!!!:)Good-looking and rich,if I was twenty years younger,well I would just end up as a creepy stalker since I was never a drop dead handsome muscle boy.

  • Rockery

    LOL What a mess!! Bad choice of a guest

  • Dumdum

    You know Dan I am all for equal rights.But do you know what Lesbians and Transgendered folks say about us Gay men behind our backs? You are so willing to jump on the band wagon that would just as quickly run you over the second you stepped out of line.It is very hard for any man to imagine having their penis cut off and turned inside out.And very few can even afford the operation.I recommend that you all read James Finn Garner’s book Politically Correct Bedtime Stories.The Gay Male subculture is so obsessed with youth and beauty and size.I thank my lucky stars that I am in a stable relationship at 52 I would be cast out into the pool of lonely creepy old perverts on Craigslist since I am not rich enough to pay for sex with a hot guy.

  • ncman

    @Dumdum: At the age of 52, couldn’t you just have sex for free with other 52 year old men?

  • hf2hvit

    It was NOT Rogaine. It was Propecia…big difference

  • Jackie

    @keoki3: Well I sometimes object the G in LGBT how do you feel about that?

  • BiL

    You bashers should be ashamed of yourselves. Using the same language that the far right has used against us for years. I don’t give a rats ass if you don’t feel comfortable with the lgbt tag. It’s about the right to be who you are. The Log Cabin Republicans need new members and I’m sure they will welcome you with open arms. A bigot is a bigot!

  • Jackie

    @Jackie: “object to”.

  • Jackie

    @BiL: Well excuse my objection to people objecting to the T in LGBT. Shit if you take out the T in LGBT you might as well take out the B too as it probably won’t fit in with your beliefs either.

  • BiL

    @Jackie: Actually I’m agreeing with you.

  • GeriHew

    @hf2hvit: Re: “It was NOT Rogaine. It was Propecia…big difference”

    Thanks for the info! This seems to be a very important aspect of Mandi’s story that’s mostly being overlooked here and by the outraged Trans Activists. I haven’t seen the whole show, just the clip above, so I don’t know. Maybe the programme didn’t pay sufficient attention to this issue either.

    I did a quick google and found this website:
    “ was formed to spread the word about the undocumented potentially irreversible side effects caused by using Propecia (finasteride) 1mg each day. A number of males have suffered erectile dysfunction, impotence, low libido and gynecomestica after using Propecia. The shattering truth for these males is that the side effects did not disappear after ceasing finasteride. The shattering truth is that years later these individuals are still suffering in silence with a seriously reduced quality of life due to erectile dysfunction and impotence. It is not know exactly what causes these changes and how to screen individuals before treatment.”

    It seems this website should be adding another side effect – i.e. Propecia can trigger transsexualism. I don’t know what the ingredients of Propecia are, but it’s pretty obvious that it must have quite a lot of female hormones in it.

    From the YouTube clip I cannot see that Anderson Cooper is guilty of sensationalism at all. Every trans person has a right to tell her/his/their own story. Mandi’s experience is very different to the “norm” for transwomen, so what? Some trans people are aware they’re trans from a very early age, in others the feeling do not develop until much later in life. There must be multiple various reasons for this.

    Sexuality also, can be very fluid for some people or dramatically shift form straight to gay or vice versa. There must be multiple various reasons for this also.

    Chris Birch says he was a straight man who became a gay man after suffering a stroke and says he’s happy being gay:
    A neuro-psychiatrist is also quoted in the article as saying he has come across a similar case in his practice of a man whose sexuality changed from homosexual to heterosexual.

    Too many people in the LGBT community are wrapped up in the notion that they were “born this way” and nothing on earth can change it. I don’t agree. I say there is nothing wrong with being L. G. B or T so it shouldn’t really matter why you are the way you are.

    Mandi, however, may wish that she’s never taken this propecia stuff. But the physical and psychological changes it triggered in her are probably irreversible. Or it might just do more harm that good to her to attempt to reverse them.

  • Dumdum

    Did anyone catch the fact that Mandi purchased his/her pills online from some company in India?It is rather pathetic that men freakout about hair loss. My lover of 23 years is losing his hair and I always have to reassure him that I find him attractive. He is my cute little Elf man and he is furry like a little Teddy Bear.However I might feel differently if I didn’t have a full head of hair. Bald can be sexy.

  • Tomm

    You know what is genuinely sensationalistic and exploitive? This Queerty article. The written article does not describe or quote the actual segment Anderson Cooper did, only the words of trans activist who themselves had not actually watched the piece. The article title declares the segment “exploitive” without actually backing that up with facts.

    Anderson Cooper’s show is not at all like Maury Pauvich or Jerry Springer, which anyone knows who has watched the three programs. That is a ludicrous sensationalistic claim. Daytime shows of all types have on guests who make silly and kooky claims about themselves all the time and viweres know that, what matters is how it is handled. Cooper dealt with it in a respectful and informative manner.

    The attack on Cooper is all the more ridiculous when you consider that comparable personal LGBT identity origin claims (like guys claims to have been turned gay by some product they bought or by a stroke) have been covered in recent years without any of this kind of fuss and criticism by major news networks like ABC and CBS, BBC documentaries, newspapers, the Advocate, and LGBT blogs such pam’s house blend and Queerty. Or have you forgotten about Queerty news articles like Man Claims: GlaxoSmithKline’s Parkinson’s Drug Turned Me Into a Gay Internet Sex Addict (

  • NoelG

    @keoki3: LGBT is and ALLIANCE. Caps for emphasis. We are allies because we have always shared common enemies who lump us together anyways. To say you’re gay so you don’t belong to the LgBT community is not only short-sighted, it’s ridiculous. You’re not alone there are plenty of gays and lesbians who feel transgendered people have jumped on the the bandwagon of gay rights for their purposes. More ridiculousness. It’s true that transgendered rights issues are different than gay rights issues but we are all fighting for the same goddamn rights. And pre-Stonewall when the cops harassed “gays” they didn’t differentiate between the L and the G and the B and the T. And remember, it was a transgendered person who first struck back at the cops at Stonewall and started the modern lgbt rights movement.

  • Aidan8

    @NoelG: Noel, I’m generally in agreement with you. Only thing I question is your assertion that transgendered people were those striking back at the cops during the Stonewall riots. Many were drag queens, for sure. But the two are not the same.

  • BayAreaHomo

    Nobody has mentioned the reality… that Mandi has sued the maker of the drug, claiming that she’d not be trans if she hadn’t taken it, and demanding big-time recompense.

    It’s an obvious moneygrab, and these self-appointed spokespeople for the trans community are simply trying to shout down Anderson for asking obvious questions.

    If his skeptical questions were “offensive and exploitative,” what about Mandi’s claim in her lawsuit that being made trans through a pill is just such a horrible and awful fate that she should receive a massive payout?

    (Of course, the idea that a pill would change one’s gender identity is hilariously ridiculous… and an effort at a money grab. What better way to cover that up than unbridled and quaking outrage? Ugh.)

  • GeriHew

    @BayAreaHomo: Re:(Of course, the idea that a pill would change one’s gender identity is hilariously ridiculous… and an effort at a money grab. What better way to cover that up than unbridled and quaking outrage? Ugh.)

    I agree that it seems to be quite a farfetched claim but should it be dismissed as “hilariously ridiculous” = i.e. impossible?

    In the clip Mandi talks about physical feminization and breast growth – i.e.gynecomestica

    The lists gynecomestica as one of a number of side effects.

    Surely, we all know that transsexual people take pills as part of their gender reassignment treatment? The pills that male to females take are full of the feminising hormones, estrogen and progesterone, which develop female secondary sexual characteristics.

    I doubt that everyone’s gender identity is so strong that it can’t be affected by life changes and outside influences. If Mandi’s male gender identity wasn’t that strong in the first place I don’t see why it couldn’t possibly have been changed by taking these pills which must have female hormones in them.

    Even if taking propecia didn’t actually change Mandi’s gender identity, if they can be shown to have feminized her body, that’s something she can sue the manufacturer’s for. They’re sold has hair replacement pills, not as transgender treatment feminizing pills.

  • Aaron

    I feel so much shame at my fellow gays who think our cause is separate from that of lesbians, bisexuals, or transgendered. I should tell you, in my small Midwestern town we are all “the gays” or “queers” no matter what our gender, biology, or preference – no distinction is made by the uneducated or bigoted, yet we take the time to divide ourselves and defeat ourselves. To paraphrase an old poem:

    First they came for the transgendered,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t transgendered.

    Then they came for the bisexuals,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a bisexual.

    Then they came for the lesbians,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a lesbian.

    Then they came for me,
    and there was no one left to speak for me.

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