By Sunnivie Brydum
Originally published on Advocate.com January 12 2014 1:10 PM ET
After Katie host and former Today show anchor Katie Couric hosted Carmen Carrera and Laverne Cox on her talk show last week, many trans folks and their allies objected to a spurious line of questioning wherein the host seemed fixated on the trans women's genitalia, and the details of what gender-confirming surgeries the women may have undergone.
Both Carrera, a model best known for her appearance on RuPaul's Drag Race, and Cox, a star of Netflix's breakout hit Orange Is The New Black, responded to Couric's questions with grace and poise, redirecting the conversation to point out how the singular focus on trans people's bodies reduces an entire segment of the population to a festishistic obsession with "private parts," as Couric phrased it on the Monday's show.
Reaction online was swift and often harsh, with writers — including The Advocate's trans issues correspondent, Parker Marie Molloy — taking Couric to task for her uneducated and invasive questions.
On Friday, Couric responded to that outrage, saying that while she realized the questions may have felt inappropriate, she felt it was important to make sure the "teachable moment" made it to broadcast.
"When I asked [Carrera] about any anatomical changes that had taken place during her transition, she balked, and so did some of you," said Couric in this week's "Follow Up Friday" segment. "Now, even if some thought my question was off base, I wanted to make sure my question — and Carmen's answer —stayed in the show as a teachable moment for me, as well as our viewers. I'm really proud we were able to spotlight such an open and honest conversation with Carmen and Laverne Cox, who are both terrific, about the myriad of struggles that this often maligned, marginalized and misunderstood community faces."
Watch Couric's response below: