Who should sit on a panel of experts discussing issues surrounding personal identity within the trans community? According to CNN, a panel of four: three cisgender men, one cisgender woman.
The recent controversy involving Piers Morgan, transgender activist Janet Mock, Morgan's offensive interview on CNN and the subsquent heated Twitter exchange between the two has brought this issue to light.
During an interview that aired Tuesday night on CNN, Morgan referred to Mock as "a boy until age 18" and described her as being "formerly a man." When Mock received tweets on Tuesday night from Piers Morgan Live account misgendering her, she tweeted her outrage.
Morgan was not happy about it. He announced he would have her back on the show to settle their feud.
In a segment that aired Wednesday night, Morgan addressed the criticism he received from Mock and the trans community. He explained that he had "an infuriating 24 hours" and that he brought Mock back so she could explain "why he's got to go through this."
It's clear that for Morgan, the segment was about him, not Mock. He's obviously not interested in letting a woman tell her own story. Rather, he's invested in his own redemption narrative. Starting a segment by describing your own pain and suffering without acknowledging the pain and suffering of the community you've hurt is astoundingly insensitive.
Morgan also demanded Mock explain why she didn't speak up during the interview when she was offended by his language. "I was scared," she said, to which Morgan replied, "Scared of what? Scared of what?"
Good point. What could a woman who's experienced years of discrimination and abuse be afraid of when she encounters the same kind of ignorance before millions of Americans?
But what came next undid all that greatness. Immediately after the interview, CNN staged a completely cisgender panel to discuss the validity of her identity.
The conversation in its entirety was offensive (at the exception of comments made by Marc Lamont Hill), but Ben Fergusun stole the show by insisting that Mock was born a boy. He characterized her feelings about the interview as "fake outrage by a woman who needs to sell books."
Furguson calling Mock's suffering "fake" is not just obnoxious. It's dehumanizing. His comments don't only deny her story; they deny her dignity. What message does Furguson's smear campaign send to young girls watching at home? It tells them that if they speak out, others will get to define who they are and how they feel.
The pain and suffering of trans people is real. Why is that so difficult for some cis-gender people to believe?
Trigger warning: this video may offend certain viewers.
This is the picture Mock posted after her first interview with Morgan. Something tells me that last night didn't help turn that frown upside down.