Janet Mock Returned to Piers Morgan Live Tonight: Here’s What Went Down

Even though Piers Morgan seemed to threaten her on twitter last night, when he tweeted out that he wanted Janet Mock back on his show to debate his “supposed ‘offensiveness’ live on air,” Mock agreed to come back, saying she is “Looking fwd to a fruitful discussion.” While Mock was able to make some good points and share more of her perspective on why it was offensive to say she “was a man until 18,” the discussion wasn’t quite as fruitful as I’m sure Mock was hoping it would be.

The segment started out with Morgan being completely incredulous, saying that he was “shocked when (he) became targeted by a lot of very, very angry people.” After introducing Mock, he then demanded that she explain to him “why I had to go through this.” This was the first time that he defended himself by reading off a resume of all the gay rights he supports. Mock, being the gracious one, actually apologized (something Morgan never did), saying “I’m sorry you feel annoyed and I think people in the trans community feel equally peeved.” Morgan seemed especially annoyed that Mock didn’t call him out during the interview if she found his statements so objectionable. Mock responded to this by saying that since this was her first appearance on a mainstream show, she was scared and “wanted to be a cordial guest.” She later added that, “if I called out people every time they misnamed or misidentified me, i wouldn’t have time for real issues.” Morgan wouldn’t hear it and insisted that since he was nice and complimented her, she should have been grateful, to which Mock replied with a quote that I think perfectly sums up the message that “allies” like Morgan need to hear - “being offensive and being kind are not mutually exclusive things.”

Janet's face sums up my feelings about this interview

Janet’s face sums up my feelings about this interview

When he wasn’t busy saying that he’s a great ally and how supportive he is of “gay rights,” Morgan kept on pointing to a 2011 Marie Claire article written by Kierna Mayo about Mock titled “I Was Born a Boy.” Whenever Mock would say that she was “born a baby” or that she never identified as a boy, Morgan seemed very annoyed and waved around this article, saying that since she said she was born a boy three years ago, he had every right to do so now. It didn’t seem to matter to him that Mock repeatedly told him that she didn’t write the article, she didn’t come up with the headline, she’s written blogs criticizing the article and even talks about how problematic it is in the introduction to her book. In a blog entry on her website also written back in 2011, she says basically the same things she’s been saying to Morgan this whole time, that this kind of misgendering is offensive and harmful.

But I do wish I could change one thing in the piece: the term “boy” which is used a few times. Overall I’m fine with it because I was born in what doctor’s proclaim is a boy’s body. I had no choice in the assignment of my sex at birth. I take issue with the two instances in the piece: The first instance proclaims, “Until she was 18, Janet was a boy,” and then it goes on to say, “I even found other boys like me there…” My genital reconstructive surgery did not make me a girl. I was always a girl.

Morgan finally stopped talking about the Marie Claire article (which apparently was the only research he did on Mock for an interview that was supposed to be about her book, Redefining Realness) when she told him that “that piece should not have been the basis of our interview” and “my life is in Redefining Realness,” which I’m sure she thought the interview was going to be about. However, he still insisted that he did nothing wrong.

The main problem he seemed to be having was that he was still considered her a boy until she had surgery. Despite her saying “I was a baby, I was assigned male gender because of my genitals” earlier in the interview when asked if she was “a boy until 18,” he asked her again and again, “do you dispute that you were born a boy?” He told her “I don’t think that terminology is wrong,” and asked her to explain to him why it’s offensive to say that she was a boy, when the phrase “gender reassignment” means that she went from male to female. Mock told him that “it’s not about what surgeries I may or may not have had” and she didn’t start identifying as a girl when she “went to Thailand,” she started identifying that way “as soon as I had enough agency” to actually know what identifying as a certain gender meant.

Screen shot 2014-02-05 at 8.21.13 PM

Again, Morgan revealed exactly what kind of trans ally he is throughout the interview. When he was asking why Mock got so upset, he explained to Mock, “I’ve always been supportive of gay rights and gay marriage.” Mock shut that down immediately and told him “gay rights are not transgender rights” and that supporting gay marriage does not make him an ally to trans people.  Still, spoke down to her, offering her unsolicited advice and saying “it doesn’t do you or your community any service to make me look bad.” It’s bizarre how good he is at making this issue revolve around him and his feelings.

Things got really strange after Mock left and when Morgan brought on a panel to discuss the interview just moments after it ended. Two of the panelists, Amy Holmes and Ben Ferguson were just as bad as Morgan, and the only redeeming quality of this segment was Marc Lamont Hill’s contributions. Holmes started off by saying that Mock shouldn’t be upset that she was misgendered because the only reason she is on TV is that she was born with male genitalia and that that’s a “pretty sensational story.” So apparently her activism, speaking, advocacy and writing don’t matter at all. Hill responded by saying that trans identity does not hinge on surgery. He then pointed out that perhaps Morgan isn’t quite the trans ally he thinks he is and that he sounded like “when white people point to the number of black friends they have” every time he tried to say how supportive he is of the LGBT community. It all went downhill when Ferguson had a chance to speak, which he somehow decided to use to shout things like “this is fake outrage,” “she was born a man,” and “doctors and science agree with me on this one!”

Morgan showing a fundamental misunderstanding of oppression dynamics.

Morgan showing a fundamental misunderstanding of oppression dynamics.

Overall, it didn’t really seem like Morgan learned much or really realized what he did wrong. He ended this part of the show by saying that he has learned that “there’s a difference between sex and gender” which kind of totally misses the point. It still would have been offensive if he had spent half the initial interview saying “she was a male until she had surgery at the age of 18.” Morgan really seems to have some really fundamental misunderstandings about how oppression works. He seemed to think that trans people calling him transphobic is just as bad as the oppression that trans women of color face every day. He tried to make himself into the victim, and even though he invited Mock back on his show, he clearly didn’t want to listen to her or learn from this experience. It would have been nice to see a wealthy, white cis man with all the privilege in the world be quiet for a little while, listen to a trans woman of color and actually learn from his mistakes, but unfortunately, that’s not what happened tonight.

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Mey is a lesbian, Latina trans woman living in Idaho. Her areas of expertise include comic books, trans* issues and pop culture. She has an English Degree, a cat named Sawyer, a tumblr that she uses a lot and a twitter that she only uses occasionally. She's a selfie princess and Nerdy Bruja Femme.

Mey has written 133 articles for us.

47 Comments

  1. Thumb up 21

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    Sweet lesbian jesus this guy is 1. an idiot 2. a d-bag and whole lotta other things I can’t say because you know. The idiot clearly didn’t want to learn from his mistakes. ‘Playing the victim’ was all he really did in that second interview. I say bring a third with Janet Mock AND bring Laverne Cox to it and we’ll see what he can say then. And for that other idiot who said ‘A pretty sensational story’. Sweet lesbian jesus IDK. I cannot even.

    *That’s how you know you’re upset you don’t say ‘can’t’ you put the whole damn word.*

  2. Thumb up 27

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    I can’t even say anything vaguely constructive or mature because i just want to push Piers Morgan off a cliff into a sea of his own white cis-male “waah waah why are you mean to me” tears. HE wants HER to apologize to HIM? What a frakking farce. What an absolute whiny privileged jerkwad.

    And saying “No” to being told to apologize? I’d say i think a kindergarten teacher might be missing a student, but i don’t want to insult kindergarteners.

    I hope Janet Mock was able to have a stiff drink or two after this, & was able to be around people who treat her as a valued, valid human being & who don’t misgender her & treat her like this pathetic little cis-man did.

    • Thumb up 1

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      I wish I lived in a world where Piers Morgan could think it would be neat to invite radical lesbian “Hothead” Paisan onto his show.

      I suppose they wouldn’t broadcast the carnage. But I can still dream of it.

  3. Thumb up 9

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    Again… go on an idiot’s show and you will be dragged down to the level of that idiot. He had absolutely no interest in what Janet had to say either in the first broadcast or tonight. His shows are about himself… not his guest. And to pretend he’s ever been otherwise is naive. Especially when the guest is some transgender person (much less black).

    I do believe Janet Mock should have spoken up in the first show when he started talking his bs… when you let characters like Morgan get the upper hand with you and walk all over you, it just invites them to get even more outrageous. At least she got a lot of exposure for her book and there are plenty of people who can’t stand Piers Morgan. The biggest cheap shot was his “panel” (with 2/3rd of them being total fools brought on to belittle Janet) which shows exactly how media can frame your story even without your participation. Chalk it up as a learning experience but don’t expect gutter media people to treat you with respect… they don’t play that way.

  4. Thumb up 23

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    Wow that was painful to watch, and yet I could in a way say that it was worth it. Mainly because there are times when I am traipsing through life and forget that the great majority the Het-cis world views the entire existence of Trans woman as nothing more than a joke, an excuse to be weirded out and squicked, and just hatefully pompous about such.
    I applaud Janet for getting out there, and not because I thought she would win. But because there are thousands of bigoted jackasses who were never going to change their minds watching, but someone, maybe a trans woman or trans man, will see this junk, catch wind of the anger and irritation and gain something from it. The words of her book will be more widely read, it will work as promotion (and be accused of that as it’s reasoning) but I don’t care. I do not argue with bigots and assholes to change their minds. I argue and speak my mind to be seen by the silent people standing on the edges, because I was there once too.

    Rock on Janet.

  5. Thumb up 9

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    He never wanted to open his ears to learn or listen. I can only hope she doesn’t have that jerk in her presence ever unless it’s for a lengthy apology.

    I hope Piers does not have any trans family members or friends that have to deal with the fact that he will not fully support or respect them.

    Also, in the future, if Piers decides to donate to LGBT charities, I hope those charities question his donation, because he is just going to use that as leverage over LGBT folks. If anyone of us ever speaks out against these allies, they will wave their donation receipt in you face and tell you to shut up or they’ll terminate their support. Grosset kind of human ever.

    I want to see Arriel is Hamming defend this ally.

  6. Thumb up 4

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    Supposed advocates of transgender rights need to check themselves. Being “okay” with something doesn’t mean you have any authority, by no means, to use that as a badge to scoff at the notion you may be hurting the very community you are trying to advocate. Piers Morgan may be an ally, but he is either clueless or doesn’t understand the nuance of being a trans person.

    The problem is twofold… Generally speaking, Americans, and that includes many in the queer community as well, have little understanding of gender, sexual orientation and identity. Second, trans identified people are somewhat naive in thinking that despite the journey of acceptance they have traveled on their individual paths, the majority of Americans have just now begun to travel that path.

    As queer people we need to be more patient and understanding, and be smart about picking our battles. I admire Janet Mock, I really do…but she and other trans people shouldn’t be fooled into thinking the rest of America is as far on this journey of acceptance.

    • Thumb up 0

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      “Tolerate” vs. “celebrate”. Yes.

      For the trans* women and men and gender outlaws and all the others who watched or heard of it and felt othered by the assertion of cis norms and privileges–a heartfelt autostraddly wish, and hope, in celebration of who you are: You do you.

      Morgan isn’t an opponent. But the best he can manage is toleration, for something weird and other (and kinda icky) that he can manage to tolerate.

      Here’s to Janet, then. You’re wonderful!. And the to everyone hurt or offended by every barb launched at her by Morgan and his cohorts, however tolerantly and supportively they meant it–you’re great! We all are.

    • Thumb up 3

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      “Piers Morgan may be an ally, but he is either clueless or doesn’t understand the nuance of being a trans person.” No, there are other possibilities as well. That the word ally is really pretty meaningless unless you agree on very specific areas of mutual interest. That the word ally is often used to shield one from criticism of a specific group… as though it’s some kind of invisible force field which protects one’s ignorant comments from any critique. That the word “ally” is often used by people to appear as a victim when they are challanged by the group they’re allies with, and to make the conversation about them and not what the marginalized group is going through.

    • Thumb up 9

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      EXACTLY. I GENUINELY CANNOT BELIEVE HE CALLED HIMSELF A VICTIM OF “CISPHOBIA.”

      Next thing you know, he’s going to blame Janet for being a “reverse racist.”

      I have nothing else to say, because the article/comments have summed up everything for me, but goddamn it I have nothing but hate for this guy. And nothing but admiration and respect for Mock.

  7. Thumb up 3

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    I was so infuriated by how he was trying to derail her arguments with “if it was really a problem you should have said something on the show” and “all I’ve ever done is support you and say nice things about the gays” and Janet just kept shutting him down with her perfect responses.

    And when he told her “stop interrupting, let me speak” when he had been talking over her for the last five minutes. Ugh.

    Janet Mock deserves all the high fives. I have the utmost respect for her. I seriously have no idea how she puts up with this garbage, especially with such composure and grace in the face of a buffoon like Morgan.

  8. Thumb up 4

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    Piers is truly one of the most bigoted of people.

    He shouts off “the gays” as though LGBTQ is “all dem darn queers,” completely oblivious that not all LGBTQ people are gay (i.e. straight trans* women), or that trans/gay/etc. are traits, not identities, and should be used as adjectives and not nouns.

    I am almost certain that if you asked him who a straight trans* girl was attracted to, he’d probably still say women because he is so completely ignorant to not actually see trans* women as actual women, which is truly the real problem here. He hasn’t graduated beyond seeing trans* as anything more than “GENDER SWAP,” because, ya know, we can just choose who we really are deep inside as opposed to just repressing the ever living heck outta it – I’m sure he’s right next to bringing up some sort of stupid “why don’t you choose to just be – it’d still make you a MAN” argument before too long.

    He goes off about the “you were a boy until you got surgery” b.s. as though the gender identity of Janet Mock suddenly OMG BETTER CHANGE COURSE out of thin air all of sudden instead of, ya know, having been implanted into her brain since she was born. Trying to understand what gender identity actually is instead of, ya know, being completely misinformed and spouting out the same ignorant misinformed b.s., is just too hard for this guy.

    Piers is nothing more than your typical dull headed over privileged cis straight white male who thinks that when he pisses off an oppressed minority by being a complete bigot claiming to be an ally (he so isn’t – AT ALL) that somehow he’s the one being treated badly – oh, poor Piers.

    Don’t worry, I’m sure he won’t be attacked for being cis anytime soon, but I’m sure he’ll sit there and claim cisphobia because his poor little baby feelings got ruffled up a bit by his own doing – you know the ring, making the conversation about his poor hurt feelings as opposed to the actual systematic suffering of trans* people that he is, by performing these interviews the exact way he has done, aiding and abetting that exact oppression against trans* people.

    That’s why he had the “experts” panel afterwords – he just needed to be reminded that his poor little feelings are correct and everybody else, including every single member of the community he just completely took a literal crap upon while claiming ally status (lol), are just wrong and dumb.

    Piers Morgan wouldn’t know what being an ally meant if it was shoved right down his throat.

  9. Thumb up 8

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    What can I say that hasn’t already been said. Piers is a giant privileged man-baby and he lacks the tact or decency of a preschooler. I just want to send out vibrations of love and compassion to Janet Mock, who is doing all of us a great service by dealing with these mainstream media buffoons in an effort to advance understanding of trans rights in the public’s eye.

    And cisphobia? Really? Nothing screams, “I am not an ally,” quite like claiming victimhood in the name of the privileged class.

  10. Thumb up 1

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    Bummer…I’m really disappointed in Piers Morgan.

    This guy didn’t hit my radar until he started taking on the American gun lobby, and that really earned my respect. However this latest incident has completely eroded it – what a shame.

  11. Thumb up 2

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    These types of interviews are sad, and they really tick me off. However, they are necessary. If we are going to make any significant headway, we need to show people exactly what we go through, and why it is wrong. I applaud those like Janet Mock for taking on such things.

  12. Thumb up 6

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    As a Trans* non-gender binary person, this interview upsets me so much. To Piers Morgan, a man that is literally speaking to millions every time he opens his mouth on CNN tells people what to think, I am a female and cannot be respected as non-gender binary person unless I get a surgery to either remove my genitals or grow a tentacle. This is not an ally, this is a trans*sexist reporter who is showing Americans that it is okay to misgender and disrespect trans* people.

    Disgusting

  13. Thumb up 3

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    Sometimes I really wonder if people like Morgan, who are so hell-bent on the “surgery or it doesn’t count” model of thinking would apply the same standards to themselves.

    I mean, I know if somehow someone performed surgery on me, as a cis-person, to make my genitals/body ‘male’ I would still be no more a man than I would be a potato because that is just not who I am. It just isn’t. So would someone like Piers Morgan automatically “become” a woman, by his own reasoning, if he was to have surgery? I just don’t see how they justify that line of thought to themselves. But trying to look for logic in these so-called ‘debates’ was probably my first mistake…

  14. Thumb up 5

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    It’s sad that a few years ago before I came out and started really getting educated on LGBT issues, I would have seen nothing wrong with this. As much as we discuss gay rights and thing to say and not to say to people with different sexualities, I never discussed with anyone the proper way to talk about transgender issues. It’s something we have to start teaching our kids.

    And Piers Morgan, as a journalist, should be open to getting educated on it himself; in fact, he should have done the homework beforehand and not cockily assumed that he knew how to speak about Janet’s story just because he knew some members of the gay community.

    Piers, you should feel LUCKY that Janet Mock has spoken to you herself and you got the education first hand. Be grateful.

  15. Thumb up 1

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    Loved Janet’s responses and even thought Piers behaved like an idiot not even making any actual effort to understand. I think that it was important for others in our community to see Janet standing up for herself and if an allies who are interested in knowing more watched then they have the opportunity to learn. Thanks for covering this Mey.

  16. Thumb up 3

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    You know what is really sad about this? Piers claims to be a supporter of Gay and trans rights. He then plays the victim when he’s called on his transphobia. His form of validation for playing the victim involved bringing on 2 conservatives who of course supported his transphobia. The one liberal is only brought on to act like he’s not a bigot.

    Morgan could have acted like an adult and admitted his mistakes but instead took the coward’s way. He just can’t admit he was wrong can he?

    Also, how messed up is it that he has this panel without Janet there to defend herself?

    The blood is boiling my friends, the blood is boiling.

  17. Thumb up 0

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    At some point this week, somewhere on the internet I read a thing saying Piers Morgan should be deported for being basically Piers Morgan. For the record we don’t want him back. Let’s see if PRNK will take him.

  18. Thumb up 0

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    People like Piers Morgan expect people in marginalized groups to just be so grateful for any little scrap he’s willing to throw our way. When it didn’t play out that way he didn’t hesitate to show his true colors.

    I have nothing but respect for Janet Mock. It’s unfortunate she had to interact with someone so willfully ignorant, but hopefully there were people watching at home who saw someone who was out and proud and standing up for herself.

  19. Thumb up 0

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    Piers Morgan was indeed a clumsy blowhard, but guess what? Outside of our tight community of trans supporters, he’s the one who won the sympathy vote in the end. Janet Mock not only gave Morgan a well-deserved tongue-lashing over his apparent cluelessness, she went a punitive step farther and threw him under the bus, making him look like a hapless scapegoat. In truth, Morgan’s a savvy media maven with a knack for taking gut punches from firebrands, who he then goads into acting like zealots. Americans in particular should understand this: Piers Morgan is upper crust British, a master at self-effacing, passive-aggressive condescension. Look at how he won over The Young Turks, arguably among the most solid trans allies we can expect to see in the media at this point:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AIMekqiWRGE

    On the other hand, Janet Mock showed herself to be a near-flawless trans activist, an authentic and articulate spokesperson for trans people from all walks of life. Though I think she handled Morgan unwisely, it was probably a good career move to call him out publicly, and I think she’s right to demand every ounce of respect she’s earned. There’s one lesson I hope she reflects on, however. Mock has an Achilles Heel and Morgan, with all his mawkishness, nailed her on it.

    Do you think for one moment Morgan didn’t know exactly how he was baiting Mock by repeatedly calling her a boy? He revealed his tactics in the second interview when he displayed the Marie-Claire article from 2011 (attributed to Mock as co-author), titled “I Was Born a Boy”. That gave him all the cover he could ever need to portray himself as a naive admirer crushed by her vindictive fury at being taken for what was ostensibly her own words.

    I think we all understand the truth of Mock’s conviction that she was always a girl who was mistakenly assigned to the male gender at birth. Unfortunately, it’s too late for her to make that case, as a public figure she’s already forfeited that debate. Even though it’s not her own personal truth, as a prominent trans activist, we need her to speak boldly and act to disarm the weapons used to defame us. When detractors insist we’re delusional in claiming our true genders, it doesn’t help to dispute the merciless facts of our origins. The smart response to cowardly insinuations is not to deny them, but to seize them as your own weapons and confront your accusers explicitly with the lurid implications behind their words. And no, this is not something we should each expect of ourselves in our own personal lives, it is one of the burdens that those of us who rise to the challenge of speaking on our behalf must learn how to bear. I think Mock’s follow-up interview on Huffington Post shows that she’s determined to take that challenge seriously:

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