Michaela Jae Rodriguez
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Dear Media: Ronan Farrow Models How to Cover Trans People

Ronan Farrow

At a time when most cable news shows invite guests on to argue about so-called bathroom bills, and all too frequently no one talking is transgender, NBC’s Ronan Farrow is showing the media how it’s done. 

Farrow’s latest coverage on the Today show focused on what it’s like being transgender in college and how the fight over where trans people get to pee is just the start. At one point, he talks with a young woman named Eve after she used a women’s bathroom on campus at Notre Dame.

“Yeah, it was really scary,” she told Farrow. “I know that I don’t want to hurt anyone, but if someone just says something, I know I could get thrown out.”

Her fear comes through clearly, and it’s a feeling often passed over in esoteric cable news interviews about the current "debate" on equal access for trans people — because there’s no one who is trans on camera to say it from their heart, and from personal experience.

Farrow is clearly dedicated on trans issues (and he's featured trans people before) and had followed Eve’s story for a year as she was forced to live in an all-boys dormitory at Notre Dame.

“I think she would be safer in a girls’ dorm,” says Eve’s mom, near tears. Eve ended up moving off campus. Later, her mom admits feeling “mad at society” that her daughter is constantly in danger.

A recent study published in Science showed that talking with a trans person is a key determining factor in what someone believes about equal rights. Maybe it’s because, when presented with real, live, transgender humans, skeptics are forced to ask a simple question, like Chris Matthews posed to a transphobic guest on his MSNBC show, Hardball. 

Matthews repeatedly implored the stumped right-winger to “tell Jenny what bathroom she should use,” as activist and author Jenny Boylan sat on the other side of a split screen. The anti-trans activist wouldn't answer, but Boylan got the last word in, signing off by saying, "I'll be in the ladies' room." 

Sometimes it might seem things are improving because trans people are finally in the headlines, for better or worse. But MSNBC viewers who wanted more thoughtful coverage of transgender people are still mourning the loss of Farrow and Melissa Harris-Perry, who was also known for actually including trans guests on panel discussions that involved trans issues. 

Watch Farrow’s latest report below:

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