“Was the whole process painful, physically, for you?”
“Your private parts are different now, aren’t they?”
For any trans person, these questions might sound familiar. Quite often, trans people are objectified and reduced to speaking about their surgeries. But these aren’t generic questions pulled from an overheard conversation. They were part of an exchange between veteran anchor Katie Couric and trans model Carmen Carrera.
Back in 2014, Couric invited Carrera on her now-defunct daytime talk show Katie. She had great intentions. After all, she wanted to bring the realities of the trans community into millions of households all over America. But the execution was shaky.
The cringeworthy interview was ripped to shreds by the press the next day. Not to mention, Laverne Cox, who appeared later in that same episode, called Couric out on-air for asking about Carrera’s surgery.
Couric invited Cox back to have a more purposeful exchange about trans issues. Cox recognized Couric for using herself as an example before the public eye. But it seemed Couric felt she could do an even better job.
In partnership with the National Geographic Channel, she hosted Gender Revolution Feb. 6. The two-hour special offered an in-depth look at what it means to be trans in America. And this time, Couric let trans people speak for themselves.
She spoke to Gavin Grimm, the trans teen that took his fight to use the boys’ bathroom to the Supreme Court. Grimm’s story has been heavily reported over the last few years, but few sources have allowed him to share his story.
“I have been aware of who I was since I was a very young kid and it’s taken me a very long time to be able to be myself and be okay with that. The person that I am now, being able to have all of my rights in full, is such a massive, dynamic difference from the person I was just last summer,” he told Couric in the special.
Grimm isn’t the only person telling his story in the documentary. Several other members of the trans community open up to Couric (and America) about their lives.
Ultimately, this is a proud moment for the trans community. It’s a humanistic approach to telling an important story—one that needs visibility now more than ever. It’s also an opportunity for everyone involved to learn, including Couric.
She told Canada’s Global News, “I had sort of a baseline level of knowledge about these issues, but I had never really rolled up my sleeves and spent time with many of these individuals.”
She spoke of being surprised by the stories she heard and of learning something new with each interview. If the mastermind behind the special found the experience this enlightening, imagine what it can do for the millions of Americans who watched it.
Couric has proven that understanding the community was about more than righting a very public wrong. She had a genuine curiosity, and in the process of learning, she’s brought all of America along with her.
Gender Revolution aired on Feb. 6 but can be seen online and on-demand.