In case you missed it, Janet Mock made an appearance on "Piers Morgan Live" last night to talk about her new memoir "Redefining Realness." But instead of asking about the actual issues that she lays out in the book, Morgan did what has become sadly predictable of mainstream media when it comes to covering trans communities and focused almost exclusively on Mock’s physical transition.
As you can see when you watch the clip, the on-screen description of Mock was that she "was a boy until 18," even though she’s identified as a woman since high school. Morgan’s Twitter account then asked its followers, "How would you feel if you found out the woman you are dating was formerly a man?"
It was upsetting to watch for many reasons, but especially because Morgan’s questioning implied there’s an inherent deception involved in being transgender. It’s a logic that says that being transgender is a choice, a costume, a scheme put on to dupe cis men. It’s also the same logic at the core of so-called "trans panic" legal defenses, in which cis men accused of killing trans women have, often successfully, argued in court that they were "provoked" to attack their victims after discovering their biological sex. It’s a warped sense of power cloaked in patriarchy that has dug early graves for women like Gwen Araujo and Angie Zapata, teenagers who were violently killed for being themselves.
Mock kept her composure during the CNN interview, but later told Buzzfeed that Morgan was "trying to do info-tainment." She added, "he doesn’t really want to talk about trans issues, he wants to sensationalize my life and not really talk about the work that I do and what the purpose of me writing this book was about."
Mock and her supporters voiced their outrage on Twitter last night which, once again, completely flew over Morgan’s head. The CNN host said that he wished he’d never booked Mock and then called Mock and her supporters "dimwits" before sending this threat:
I’ll deal with you tomorrow night on air @janetmock – never been treated in such a disgraceful manner. Be proud.
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) February 5, 2014