Trans equality activists are disappointed with Anderson Cooper for featuring what they call a sensational story on his daytime talk show.
Cooper interviewed a guest named Mandi, who identifies as transgender but claims a drug made her that way. Cooper repeatedly challenged Mandi on whether she questioned her identity before taking Propecia, which in part uses hormones to fight male baldness.
"I've done a lot of interviews with transgender people, and I have friends who are transgendered, and they say these are feelings that don't come out of a bottle," Cooper told Mandi. "It doesn't come out of a prescription bottle, it's something that you've had for a long time. Did you have questions about your gender before?"
Mandi answered by saying she'd had a "life and death struggle" and never wore women's clothing before taking the drug. She also said she'd questioned her sexuality only while a young boy. To which, Cooper pointed out, "But gender and sexuality are two very different things. So I just find it hard to understand or believe that all of a sudden you would start to feel that you were meant to be a woman."
Before the show aired, National Center for Transgender Equality Executive Director Mara Keisling issued a statement condemning the episode. And the center remains disappointed even after the full episode aired.
"Anderson Cooper knows better than this," Keisling said. She noted the host, who recently came out, had "earned a great deal of respect from trans people" for previous coverage. But Kiesling said this interview would "throw all of that away."
"All of us here at the National Center for Transgender Equality are surprised, saddened and disappointed that a respected show like Anderson Live would give credence to this type of sensationalism and misinformation," Kiesling said in the statement. "This segment is just another case of sensationalizing an already marginalized population plain and simple."
She added, "Worst of all, they seem set on misinforming the public about the causality of trans identity.”