Janet Mock Recently sat down with Fusion’s Alicia Menendez and totally flipped the script on how an interview with a trans woman normally goes. Instead of answering a barrage of uncomfortable and unnecessary questions, this time Mock gets to ask the questions. And it is beautiful.
If you’re a trans woman (or any other trans person), you probably know exactly how this feels. Especially if you’ve ever been interviewed or spoken in front of a group. Mock asks Menendez questions like, “What’s one thing people need to know about being cis,” “When did your breasts start budding,” and of course, the classic “Do you have a vagina?”
This video intentionally harkens back to Laverne Cox and Carmen Carrera’s appearance on Katie Couric’s show and Mock’s own appearance on Piers Morgan’s show, and many, many more instances. In both of these examples, the women were appearing on the shows under the pretenses of talking about their projects, but instead had to deal with questions about their genitals, their childhoods as “boys” and other completely inappropriate and ignorant topics.
My favorite part is when Menendez tells Janet that they wrote many of the questions and even role-played them beforehand to test them out, she still didn’t realize that anything was wrong with them. “I thought we needed to know that as a way of bridging an understanding gap,” she said. Mock tells her that she often hears that as an excuse, that “the audience wants to know,” but that it’s almost always just the asker who wants to satisfy their own morbid curiosity. For anyone who was wondering why it’s innappropriate to ask this kind of questions, Mock answers and absolutely knocks it out of the park.
Many trans women, including Mock, want to be open about their experiences as a trans woman, and Mock is exceedingly so in her book, but still, there’s a line. So, next time you think about asking a trans woman if she has a vagina, please think twice. And then after you’re done thinking, just don’t ask.