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Laverne Cox Expertly Handles Wendy Williams' Asinine Questions About Being Trans

Fresh off changing the world by gracing the cover of Time Magazine, Orange Is The New Black's Laverne Cox headed to the Wendy Williams show to lob silly grade-school questions with the usual dignity and class. It's difficult choosing which of Wendy's ignorant questions made me flinch the most while watching, but I guess I'll go with, "You've got breast implants?"

Gawker's Rich Juzwiak takes down Wendy's interview as flawlessly as Laverne's poised answers:

There's a lot to pick at here, if you are so inclined. Echoes of Cox's Katie Couric interview (alongside Carmen Carrera) from earlier this year are there in Williams' question about Cox's body. Using "transgender" as a noun and not an adjective (to modify "person") is a no-no, says Buzzfeed. One does not "decide" one's gender (though Williams' question is poorly stated, she could be asking about transitioning sex). And why on earth is Chaz Bono relevant to their conversation other than the fact that Bono is another transgender person that Williams has heard of?

...

Even something like, "What is transgender?," while clearly asked for the benefit of the truly ignorant in Williams' audience, just goes to show the burden Cox has as one of the few famous trans people in our culture (and any culture, really): She has to repeatedly explain what she is before she can even get to who.

But within Cox's answers lie so much about who she is as a person. She is unflappable. If she is sick of repeatedly answering the same questions, you wouldn't know it. She has such grace that she can correct you without you even knowing it. On the subject of her breasts, she told Williams:

Off camera, I can talk to you, but I've chosen not to talk about any of the stuff I've gotten done, because I think so often when trans people's experiences are talked about, we far too often focus on surgery and transition, so I don't talk about that. But I'm very happy with the situation.

Imagine if everyone answered ignorance with patience and compassion.

 

Comments

-_-  This is not offensive, unless you are a really tight ass, politically correct, self-righteous pea brain.  Wendy did not say anything hateful.  Although she appeared ignorant, she was asking questions.  If we are afraid to ask questions, then ignorance can never ever be combated, because the only cure for ignorance is accurate education.  The questions she asked may not have even been her own.  After all, Wendy is a talk show host and most of what is said by her is likely told to her by the producers.  Furthermore, what better of a place to ask such questions than on a talk show with a guest who is transgendered?  Shaming the people who are brave enough to publicly ask such questions and use their public platform to spread awareness is the real offense here.

See:here, but replace "joke" with "ignorance." Ignorance perpetuates ignorance. Wendy has asked questions like these before multiple times with several different transgender women. These questions (i.e. the breast implants question) are proposed to transgender women all the time and are an invasion of privacy.

Also, please consider using "transgender" as a noun rather than saying "a guest who is transgendered" because that wording makes it seem like transgender is something you can become, when really it's just like your sexuality; if you're transgender, you're born transgender. :)

Cheers to Vincent's comment!

He is gorgeous !!! So well-spoken. Love !  

Actually, Laverne identifies as a woman and really prefers to be referred to as "she." But I do agree; she's absolutely stunning :)

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We had some in-law issues which contributed greatly to our demise before I contacted Dr. Dele from posts I read on a blog. Dr. Dele showed up and calmed every storm, he brought peace to everybody. We are all happy and eat together in the same table today. God bless you Dr. Dele. Contact him immediately for help via dr.delespiritualtemple@gmail.com

Talk about making a mountain out of a molehill. I thought this was a very respectful, fun, informative interview. Laverne seems to not only have be okay talking about being a transgender woman, but it actually seems as if she wants to talk about it. And why not? It raises awareness and lets those of us who aren't that familiar with it to be educated. 

We have come a long way as a society, and we continue going even further. I think the fact that we even have a transgender woman on a hit series and making the interview rounds is something to celebrate in and of itself. Why do we have to be so sensitive and nitpicky with the questions that are asked? So many people in society are ready and willing to accept this, and like it or not, even the most loving and open minded people will still be curious about it and have questions. How else are we supposed to understand it better if we're supposed to keep our mouths shut and not talk about it? 

All in all, it was a beautiful interview that helped raise awareness to a beautiful woman and her cause and educate many people on something they know very little to nothing about.... And who she is as a person was able to shine through. Well done. :):):) Now go write a positive article about what a milestone this was! 

I think anyone who goes on that show knows what to expect. I think it was light and playful and by no means did Wendy cross any line other than asking questions she would ask anyone else on her TV show

Okay, in all seriousness, I always thought Wendy was trans. Yikes!

I don't see what she said that was so terrible. Would we all rather have had a typical whitebread promotional interview? Wendy always asks about women and their breast implants, and I consider it pretty low rent when women do that to other women. There's no reason it's any more inappropriate here. 

It is common knowledge in the medical profession that niggers and FAGS are the largest carriers/spreaders of AIDS and stds. Drown them all and this world would be a MUCH cleaner, positive place/

Having just read your ignorant response to a informative subject,I can see WHY you were coward enough to post anonymously! it is YOU who hasn't the "Balls"! Get a life moron!

Wow. You're a real charmer. Glad to have you here on a gay site while you work your shit out. 

You sound dumb as hell. No the fuck its not! Women PERIOD account for the most infected. You tried to come on here and be nasty& rude but only ddisgraced your mother! I should shoot her in the head for raising such a dumb faggot lile YOURSELF!

The reality is that mainstream society (even gay) views blacks and trannies as a lower class of little or no worth.

Why pretend like you care? I hear and see what you all say behind the niggers and trannies backs (even you gays) and it is nothing nice, as well as you treat them less than.

They are sorry, worthless trash that contributes NOTHING to our society in a positive way, yet they expect to be catered to for their disgusting way and appearance.

Honey, it is YOU who is contributing NOTHING to our society. You can't even make a point about society's two-faced views on minorities without getting emotional and creating a run-on sentence.

Dude, you need to lighten up. Maybe switch to decaf. 

funny, i thought she was there to promote the new season of Orange is the New Black.... but everyone is too damn curious about what is between her legs to focus on the topic at hand.  Laverne is female plain and simple....that is all anyone needs to know.  If you find yourself frustrated you should ask yourself what bothers you about the fact that she is female.  She has been female all her life. 

I love watching Wendy, but she does say a lot of ignorant shit at times. Was surprised to see her show lasted this long after the rocky 1st season. I usually only watch for hot topics. She's very inconsistent with her opinions and can be quite the kiss ass.

The question was written deliberately to make the audience aware that it's not just about a top surgery and a bottom surgery. It's a journey and focus on tg people as a person, not the result of a surgery.

how would her general audience come to that conclusion?

Your making something out of nothing. General questions anyone outside of our community would ask. Get over yourself Instinct!

Wendy was being Wendy, and I watched this waiting for some outrageouscomment or question but it never happened. Wendy asked questions that anyone would ask and Laverne held it down. Just another interview on the Wendy show.

I honestly dont think that she crossed the line at all. The word I will use to justify this is INTENT. She was just asking questions with innocent intent. She was having girl talk with Laverne, I have asked friends of mine about their bodies without malicious intent. Most importantly she asked "What is transgender" she was declaring at that point that she was not educated in it, and when someone's INTENT is innocent and curious, i dont feel like they should be ostracized for it. Clearly Wendy's had top surgery herself, look at those things. She is just brash and in your face, and not afraid to ask questions. 

As far as Laverne goes, she is just classy all the way. I love her. Her poise and pride is inspiring.  She answered the questions so well and didnt offend in the slightest or come off as unapproachable. Love  Love Love Love LOOOVVVEEE Laverne!!!!

Imagine for a moment that you’re standing with your friends in a park, enjoying a nice summer day. You don’t know me, but I walk right up to you holding a Frisbee. I wind up – and throw the disc right into your face. Understandably, you are indignant. Through a bloody nose, you use a few choice words to ask me what the hell I thought I was doing. And my response? “Oh, I didn’t mean to hit you! That was never my intent! I was simply trying to throw the Frisbee to my friend over there!” Visibly upset, you demand an apology. But I refuse. Or worse, I offer an apology that sounds like “I’m sorry your face got in the way of my Frisbee! I never intended to hit you.” Sound absurd? Sound infuriating enough to give me a well-deserved Frisbee upside the head? Yeah. So why is this same thing happening all of the time when it comes to the intersection of our identities and oppressions or privileges? Just because you did not INTEND something does not negate it’s IMPACT. Acknowledge that, apologize, and learn from it. I don't understand what makes anyone think they can ask such personal questions and it's okay because you're different!

Jenn imagine for a moment YOUR DAMN ANALOGY MADE ANY DAMN SENSE! If you are in the transition of changing your gender. WHY THE FUCK IS IT SUCH A TERRIBLE QUESTION TO ASK SOMEONE  HOW FAR ALONG YOU ARE IN YOUR TRANSITION? If you don't want to answer the question , don't answer it. You do not have the right to get your panties in a bunch because someone asked the damn question.

I expected Laverne's reply. If she isn't going to talk to Katie Couric about bottom surgery, why would she talk to Wendy about top surgery? The question is, would Wendy ask any other celebrity if they had a boob job? I find it hard to believe she would, or she wouldn't have many guests willing to come back. I also find it hard to believe that Laverne expected or approved the question, as others have suggested, because she has a record of not answering such questions. And really, whose business is it besides Laverne's? Answer: No one!

Are you kidding??? Wendy would ask ANYONE if they had a boob job.  Have you watched her show?  LOL.  FYI  - I'm a trans guy who respects and loves Laverne Cox with so much!  I love the way in which she handled Katie Couric -- it was appropriate to the format of the show.  The way she handled Wendy was also appropriate to the context of THAT show.  I agree, it's no one's business, but yeah -- we're talking about Wendy here.
 

I don't know if anyone watches The Wendy Show but she ask folks all the time if they've had worked done.  She is surely not known to be tactful at all.  

Lol, Instinct! I think your youth is showing, And, you're a tad overly sensitive. Still, I can see your point. I don't know if Wendy Williams would ask other celebs if they have implants. I've only watched a few of her shows. And from what I can see, I wouldn't put it pass her to ask tactless questions of all her guests.

Wa? The interview Is fine. And I learned a lot about something I dont know about.

That's the issue.  Laverne's personal life doesn't exist just to educate or enlighten you.  No one should learn at the expense of the privacy, safety, and comfort of another human being.  Wendy doesn't know Laverne personally, nor does the audience or anyone watching nation-wide.  Personal body questions (particularly because this is an area of intrusive curiosity people impose on transpeople) are not appropriate.

I'm confused, what did she go on to talk about then? Cause they get a list of the questions before the show... #educateyourself

Unfortunately, privacy is a luxury celebrities no longer have. The way Laverne answers questions is up to her, but being in the public eye, those questions are going to be asked of her for the rest of her career. She is able to answer them with class and grace, but the questions are going to come her way, its just part of benig a celebrity.

Sweetheart, she took the interview knowing what to expect. If I were interviewed for being and asked if I take dick or give it, I'd answer the question and move on with life.

Well said Amanda.  Laverne's answer was classic and she was a perfect lady, as usual.  There was a micro reaction to Wendy's question and I got the impression that Wendy may have asked that question knowing that Laverne wouldn't answer it.  I like Wendy's show, she always cracks me up but I think this was crossing a line.  If it was an appropriate question to ask it would be a question for all guests.  "Mr. celebrity, your pecs are huge and well defined...did you get pectoral implants?"  Has anyone asked Kim Kardashian if her buttocks are implants?  No, because it is a personal question that is no one's business.  If people are really interested in what the surgical experience is like for transgender people, speak to a surgeon in an educational setting; don't ask people during a national interview.

I am pretty sure Laverne is excited to have a platform to be able to speak about these topics. The questions are all set up and prepared before hand so everyone knows what is going to happen before the interview begins. When someone asks a question about something they are ignorant about then that shows that they are trying and/or are curious. If you hide away answers nothing in this world would evolve. Why would you even think this would be a negative interview. Maybe you should rewrite the title of this article before people start sending you hate mail. 

You say she must have been excited to have a platform to speak on well that most likley would be true, but she mist likly didnt want to go on the show talking about physical matters. It was inappropriate that you asks the question's to a relatove stranger. She was there to be a voice to show people thats transmen, qnd women are no diffrent from anyother person. In that respect wendy wouldnt have been asking one of her female guests about breast augmentation. Being that wendy knew she had a trans woman on the show she should have done research about transgendered men, and women. She knew enough about chaz bono, so she shouldnt have been so insensitive. Obviously this greatly offended many people, and im assuming you dont have a personal relationship with wendy Williams so there is no need for you to protect that fool.

From someone who has worked closely with Wendy & the show for years:  First & foremost, Laverne likely knew these questions were coming in advance & either approved them or not. This is talkshow COMMON PRACTICE.  Second, Wendy is a MAJOR ally who would never put someone of the LGBT community in harm's way on her show. Btw, she's had Chaz Bono on more than once.Third, it's Wendy's JOB to ask the questions the audience at home can't. Sure, she adds her own "how u doin" to the interview that fans love, but the vast majority of viewers have probably never spoken to much less seen a trans woman in person & this was Laverne & the Wendy Show's way of saying "America, say how u doin to that lady on the groundbreaking cover of Time Magazine."

1.  If this was pre-planned it could have gone in a much better way.  Rather than putting Laverne in an visibly awkward position by asking her a transphobic question ("do you have breast implants" and commenting on how they look--um...really Wendy?) she could have said, "You've said before that you won't discuss the work you've had done, can you explain why?"  It's no secret that Laverne doesn't share this information publicly.  It looked like Wendy didn't do her homework.

2.  Ally or not, transphobia isn't OK.  Having a transperson on your show once doesn't give you free-license to ask transphobic questions nor does it make you an ally.  It's no OK to pull the "I have a friend who is [insert diversity attribute here]" as an excuse to be intrusive.

3.  The audience should not be asking those questions.  Wendy's job could have been to model more appropriate questions for the audience.

what I should also comment on is that Wendy did get better as a result of former controversy and Laverne is open to discussing her transition off camera in order to avoid changing the message of the interview

While I do agree with the fact that she is an ally of the LGBT community and asks questions based on the interests of her viewers, Wendy Williams already received backlash over her statements in a round table segment regarding the trans athlete Chloie Jonsson where she and her guests commented on Jonsson's being in very rude ways similar to that in the clip with Laverne.

So while what you're saying is a valid point, Wendy Williams just recently had controversy and apologized regarding the discussion of trans people on her shows. She should know better at this point.

I though Laverne did a great job with the interview, but I disagree that Wendy's questions were asinine. I do think they were ignorant, but that is to be expected. Many in the straight as well at the LGB community have very little experience with or knowledge of the trans community. The more that the trans community and their allies are visible and educating the public, the less you will see these types of questions, and the more acceptance the community will gain. 

It is not the job of the marginalized to teach or make up for public ignorance.  You can still be ignorant and armed with good intentions and be transphobic at the same time.

While it's true that many aren't educated on trans* issues, it's reasonable to expect people who do interviews for a living to be able to ask better questions that your redneck uncle Merle.

Laverne just keeps on going, I'm so proud and excited for her. We couldn't ask for a more intelligent and warm spokesperson to bring transgender issues to a TV audience. 

She had slip ups, and it's good that Laverne called Wendy out for it. And Laverne is just like any other person who wants their privacy. Trans folks are not to be used for your educational purposes. That is what google/the internet is for. We can give references and accept questions, but we do not owe it to anyone to answer questions we are not comfortable with.

your all dumb - Wendy Williams is asking the question to then show the viewers what not to say, shes being a good interviewer- they had a pre interview dumb questions are asked to show dumb people what they shouldn't dumbly do and say!! case closed

It just teaches people that those questions are OK to ask.  They're not.

Way to stir the pot and disservice the community, Insctint. I don't watch Wendy Williams, but I'm glad talk shows are inviting Laverne Cox to educate about transgender people. I thought her questions were fine.

Maybe the question was designed for the answer.

Aside from the surgery question, I think Wendy did fairly well, she had one slip up using transgender as a noun instead of an adjective, but that's really all I caught...

IT might seem stupid or even insensitive but lets not forget, this isn't something people outside a specific circle are going to just know everything about.  The reason she has to endure stupid questions is because each of those stupid questions someone who has no idea, is wondering, and each time she handles one of those questions masterfully, she gains understanding and clarity for everyone like her.   To those who know, it can be uncomfortable to watch, but think about it. Are those questions really for us, or are they for people who never have been around or exposed to trans people?  

I am a transsexual woman, and I approve this message. I don't hide what I've been through or what I am. And I love it when people ask me questions, even the most personal or seemingly ridiculous ones. I am a teacher to the uninitiated, and am a force for understanding. If we call a question 'stupid', we risk frightening away a possible ally that just really doesn't understand but wants to.

That's great that you'd be OK with those questions, but you can't speak for all trans* people.  Many I know take exception to such personal and invasive questions.   People just can't assume it's OK to ask anyone that stuff, even if you're OK with it.

Hi Peter. I never said I speak for all trans people, and you are right that some don't want questions. That's why, when I am answering questions, I always preface it that I am ok with the question but they shouldn't assume it of others. But I have extremely "thick skin" and my willingness to educate has turned some skeptics into my allies.

I appreciate your contribution to the topic Kimberly.  I too saw simply an moment to educate people and helping with understanding.  I have very close friends who are transgendered and they would rather have the open and honest questions than the blind ignorance and assumptions.

Thank you Jo Bo. One thing I tell people is that they are welcome to ask any question and I am free to politely decline to answer if I'd rather not answer. But they should know that the chances of them crossing the line are remote because I'm not shy. I explain that people who try to hide something / be secretive are judged (rightly or wrongly) to be 'bad' or 'wrong'. And since there is nothing 'wrong' with being transgendered, there's no reason for me to be secretive.

I applaud you Kimberly, for being the voice of reason in this whole mess we have gotten into with the sensitivity of the trans-community (and the rest of the LGBT community). Too many people stirring the pot and calling out allies for "insensitive actions". I think people need to calm down and fight the bigger picture. Laverne Cox is a great role model and chooses her battles well. I think more people in the LGBT community should follow suit instead of playing victim to every opportunity they get. It is starting to get shameful

Thank you Jason. But don't be too quick to judge the community for being sensitive. We're on the cusp of a change of attitude in society. Transgenderism is gaining more general media exposure. There are plenty of us who see the statistics and shy away from the glare of extra attention, lest they become a target. In response, they recoil when questioned.

I, myself, am only willing to be openly questioned for a brief window. People I've known pre-transition are the ones I get questions from and are the ones I am willing to educate. I don't disclose my 'status' to anyone new and, because I pass quite well, I don't get questioned. My goal is to eventually go 'stealth', but while there are those involved in my switch-over phase, I have a chance to educate.

Asking someone whether they have breast implants is an invasion of privacy. I can't believe some people (ahem, Keith & Allen) don't understand that. It doesn't matter that they're a celebrity, it's about common courtesy and being a decent enough person not to ask personal questions like that.

Wendy asked Kelly Rowland about her implants.  Wendy has asked other non-trans women about their breasts.  Other talk show hosts have asked non-trans women about their breasts/implants.  If someone's not comfortable with the question, that's fine and well within their rights, but it's not necessarily an inappropriate question.

I don't know what universe you were born in, RoughRugger, but asking someone about their surgeries in the process of transitioning is incredibly invasive and inappropriate.  It's not necessary at all to know whether someone has gotten implants or not. Some trans women get breast implants, some would like to but can't afford them, and some don't feel the need to at all. Is there some kind of criteria for being a trans woman? If she answered, "No, I don't have breast implants" is she suddenly not considered a woman? The implants question was completely unnecessary, not to mention incredibly invasive and rude. It'd be like asking someone whether they've had a colonoscopy; do you really need to be worrying about their surgical history? Lay off it.

Also, guess what? Just because a bunch of other talk show hosts found it necessary to ask that ridiculously invasive of a question doesn't mean it's okay. Slavery was a pretty popular thing in the 1800s, too, but we all now know slavery's immoral...the majority isn't always right.

I thought it was kind of silly to ask if her twin brother was trans. It  seemed like Wendy thought it should be assumed that he very well may be trans also. I think thats silly, but I dont think there was any malice behind it. I just think Laverne is so beautiful, smart and eloquent. I love her on Orange! If you havent seen it, please do!!! Its such an AMAZING show!

Given that there are multiple studies regarding twins having/not having the same sexual orientation, I think it's a perfectly valid question.  I'd actually be very interested to know, especially if they're identical twins.

Not one bad question. Come on Instinct! The question about breast implants has been asked to lots of people many, many times. Do we really need to create controversy over nothing?

Aside from that one question, I think Wendy was pretty great? I don't understand why you are displeased by her questions.

Your title is misleading. But for the one question about surgery, which Laverne handled as masterfully as she has with every other host who has asked the questions, there was a lot of positive dialogue and opportunity for education. Stop stirring the pot instinct. I'm a gay man that cares about the trans* community and so I'm sensitive to people objectifying trans* people but this isn't among those instances.

Nailed it!

She was curious. As inappropriate as it may be .she is a celebrity now. People want to know.Wendy was just being Wendy. That's how Wendy is and we love her for it.

*We* don't love her.  You do.

Ok, it started off alright and I thought asking specifically "What is transgender?" was really great to clear up any misconceptions that the audience might have. She gracefully deflected the breast question but Wendy just kept coming with it! Like seriously, she said I don't talk about it, stop asking about it.

the look like sisters, lol

YES! I wondered for the first year if Wendy was trans or a man in drag!

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