How Small Is Your Dick? Some “uncomfortable wiener questions” for Tim Graham


Last week, actress Laverne Cox and model Carmen Carrera appeared on Katie Couric’s talk show to discuss their careers and their experiences as trans women. What could’ve been an otherwise respectful interview instead took a turn for the incredibly inappropriate as Couric openly and shamelessly asked Carrera about whether her “private parts” are “different now”. Carrera, who was just not having any of that, responded perfectly: “I don’t want to talk about that, it’s really personal.” Cox later took the opportunity to explain how focusing on “the genitalia question”, as Couric phrased it, ignores the very serious issues of homelessness, discrimination, economic injustice and violence faced by trans women. Both Carrera’s and Cox’s segments are worth watching for their fantastic responses, if you can handle the severe awkwardness of the situation.

Naturally, the conservative NewsBusters.org – a Media Research Center outlet billing itself as “exposing & combating liberal media bias” – doesn’t really see a problem with any of this. It seems there’s only one thing with the power to unite the MRC and Katie Couric, whom the MRC previously bestowed with the singular honor of “Worst Reporter in the History of Man”. This is, of course, a mutual and overwhelming sense of entitlement to trans women’s bodies.

Tim Graham, the MRC’s director of media analysis, upholds the standard of excellence in news coverage for which conservative media are famous: vacuous commentary, lazy misgendering, and literal toilet humor. In his post, titled “Katie Couric Upsets the ‘Trans Women’ By Asking Those Uncomfortable Wiener Questions” (why the scare quotes? Is he calling us cis?), Graham spends a few short paragraphs putting in the least effort possible even for a transphobe. Meandering from calling Carrera and Cox “men” who “dress like women” (clearly Couric was actually inquiring about the surgery they’ve had done on their wardrobes), to suggesting questions about genitals (or “the bulge issue”, as he so cis-ly put it) were “inevitable”, to pondering whether it’s “possible to pretend to be a woman and use a urinal”, he ultimately projects an air of befuddlement that only comes from people who’ve never had to think about this in their lives: how could you possibly see anything wrong with asking trans women which genitals they have on national television?

Indeed, what’s the big deal? It’s just genitals, right? No need to get uncomfortable over a few wiener questions. Yet Graham would do well to ask his colleagues at NewsBusters the same thing. Since 2010, his fellow writers have published numerous articles expressing their outrage at the Transportation Security Administration’s updated screening procedures – namely, the full-body scanners that reveal the shape of passengers’ bodies, and the “extended pat-downs” which can include contact with the breasts, buttocks and genitals. Just look at all these very upset stories:

Oh, and an article from just last month in which Graham himself described the TSA as “well-known for being too aggressive in its body searches”.

So, let’s put it all together: When some bored TSA agent in another room merely looks at the shadow of an angry cis white guy’s “junk”, or checks whether that’s a firecracker in his pants or he’s just happy to see them – for the purpose of potentially preventing hundreds or thousands of deaths – it’s “invasive”. It’s “overboard”. It’s a “civil liberties abuse”. It’s “too aggressive”.

When trans women of color are asked point-blank about their genitals in front of a daytime audience of millions, for no reason other than prurient and entitled curiosity, it’s “inevitable”.

Inevitable. Inevitable that trans women’s bodies will be treated as public property and denied even basic human dignity. Inevitable that they’ll be gleefully dissected in detail for the enjoyment of cis people – or, as Laverne Cox pointed out, simply murdered in the streets if that’s what cis people want.

As long as no one touches Tim Graham’s junk.

But those “uncomfortable wiener questions” are still on the table, right? That’s totally an appropriate topic for everyday conversation. Has anyone gotten around to asking Tim Graham if he has a penis? Or is that “bulge” just a packer? Are those his original genitals or did he have them reconstructed? Does he have to sit down to pee, or can he use urinals like a real woman? Is he a grower or a shower? How big does it get? How does he have sex – like, how does that work? Does he have to take medication or does he have one of those erectile implants?

Most crucially: Can we all make sure that he’s forced to answer these very important questions every single time he decides to share his valuable opinions and experiences as a straight cis man?

Comments

  1. Al Dente says

    Hey Timmy, do you need a microscope to see your pee-pee? Or is that question too “invasive” for a he-man trans*phobic to answer?

  2. Question mark says

    I fear that, given Laverne’s surname, the question probably was all the more inevitable. Sometimes humanity really disappoints me. :/

  3. wtfwhateverd00d says

    Carmen Carerra was on the show because Carmen Carerra is trying to become a model for Victoria’s Secret and admits on Couric’s show that Victoria’s Secret has not responded and may not even know who she is.

    She is a model trying to get one of the most important modeling gigs. The entire segment was about Carmen Carerra’s body.

    She is a model, not a beauty pageant contestant, the entirety of her worth to Victoria’s Secret is about her body.

    The segment had nothing to do with objectifying the bodies of any transgender woman apart from Carmen Carerra who is busy objectifying her own body.

    She was on Couric’s show specifically because she is a transgender woman drumming up support for her guerilla marketing campaign to become Victoria’s Secret first transgender model which will no doubt earn her tons of fame and money — and all of that is 100% about her body, her genitals, her bank account and not at all about homelessness, violence, or progress towards GLBTQIA causes.

    It’s bullshit to complain that Couric’s questions were somehow an affront to all transgender woman or anyone who is GLBTQIA.

      • wtfwhateverd00d says

        What do you think “first transgender model for Victoria’s Secret” is all about?

        She is not trying to become “first transgender teacher in Washington DC” or “first transgender pilot for American Airlines” or “first transgender surgeon at Boston General”.

        She is trying to become “first transgender model for Victoria’s Secret”. It is intellectually dishonest to think this is about the homeless, or abuse and not about “I wonder what surgeries she has had”, and “I wonder what is underneath her panties” and “I wonder what her body looks like”.

        • Sassafras says

          What I think is intellectually dishonest is to jump from “models pose their bodies for the camera” to “every inch of their bodies is fair game”. No other fashion models, not even lingerie models, would get such invasive questions. If any other fashion model appeared on a talk show and the host asked them about the shape of their labia or the color of their asshole, people would be up in arms and rightly so.

          Besides which, the genital question is not limited to models, it’s one that trans people get asked all the time regardless of profession. It’s disingenuous of people such as Couric to keep bringing up the “People are just curious and want to be educated” excuse because people go to genital questions every chance they get; they already know what’s involved with it but they want to know if so-and-so has a dick for purely prurient and sensationalist reasons. It’s also an unfair double-bind for Carmen Carrera because if she says she has had surgery that opens the door for questions about her reshaped equipment, whether she has orgasms, and other inappropriate discussions, and if she says she hasn’t had surgery, it’s “OOOOOOH DICK DICK DICK DICK DICK” which is exactly the last thing most trans women need people focusing on.

          Laverne Cox’s point about the homeless, abuse, and discrimination was that focusing on genitals constantly is all about cis people’s morbid curiosity and it provides a distraction to allow discrimination and the reality of trans people’s lives to go unnoticed. Until cis people stop treating trans people as if their genitals are the most important thing about them, then this kind of societal abuse will continue, and changing that starts with the media changing how it approaches us.

          • wtfwhateverd00d says

            “What I think is intellectually dishonest is to jump from “models pose their bodies for the camera” to “every inch of their bodies is fair game”.”

            I am not sure you understand what “intellectually dishonest” means, but I do think a lingerie and Victoria’s Secret model is all about every inch of her body in a way not true of a non-lingerie model.

            “Laverne Cox’s point about the homeless, abuse, and discrimination was that focusing on genitals constantly is all about cis people’s morbid curiosity and it provides a distraction to allow discrimination and the reality of trans people’s lives to go unnoticed….”

            “Besides which, the genital question is not limited to models, it’s one that trans people get asked all the time regardless of profession. ”

            Now we are both repeating ourselves, and if Carrera was trying to become the “first transgender talk show host” or even the second, third, of fifteenth and was asked those questions it would be bizarre and out of line.

            Not so much for a lingerie model for Victoria’s Secret.

            Get your hate on elsewhere.

        • Sassafras says

          Ha ha, now it’s “hate” to not want trans women to be asked about their genitals constantly. GG d00d.

          And no, lingerie models are still not expected to field invasive questions about their genitals. I’ve been to Victoria’s Secret and there were no naked crotch shots on any of the posters, packaging, or ads, and you can bet if any cis Victorias Secret model was on TV and asked what her junk looks like it would not be acceptable.

          • wtfwhateverd00d says

            “Ha ha, now it’s “hate” to not want trans women to be asked about their genitals constantly. GG d00d.”

            Right, well that’s not apples and oranges, is it?

            Clearly, the hate on is what is being directed towards Couric in this one particular interview of the aspiring first transgender Victoria’s Secret model where the topic is appropriate, not towards a desire that trans women not be asked about their genitals in general.

            Of course, since when did refusing to misrepresent a situation keep any social justice warrior from their rant and poutrage?

        • Sassafras says

          You still haven’t demonstrated that it IS appropriate, you’ve simply asserted it over and over and drawn a false connection between modeling lingerie and having your genitals under media scrutiny. It’s even more ridiculous because you claim it’s not about “a desire that trans women not be asked about their genitals in general” but if you watched the clips you’d see that’s just what Couric did; she didn’t ask it in any context related to modelling, she changed the subject to transitioning in general before she got to the private parts question. Once again, no cis fashion and/or lingerie model would be asked how their junk is shaped and trans people deserve the same level of courtesy.

  4. lanir says

    Maybe the next trans person on a tv talk show should be prepared to ask the host how much time they’ve spent in front of the camera directly talking about their genitalia. If the topic slips to it being justified by the trans person having surgery, ask if the host has ever had any plastic surgery. Or if they’ve ever had any other medical surgeries or tonsils removed or anything else they’ve spoken about at length in front of millions of people. If by some wild chance they have, ask whether it was in response to someone asking or if they had personal reasons to talk about it. I think it would be easy from there to walk away from the topic.

    I’m cis so maybe I’m not super on target here but it seems like if it’s an okay topic for one group it’s an okay topic for everyone. If it’s not an okay topic for one group (as it fairly obviously isn’t for the average cis person) then it isn’t an okay topic for everyone. The only group that’s an exception to this is “people who have chosen to talk about it themselves”. Volunteering a trans person into the talking group is no more okay than volunteering a cis person into it.

  5. haitied says

    Uhh, This reminds me of a terrible interview of a great cosplayer. Their costume was revealing but basically perfect to the character in question. The artist had to have put in a hundred hours to make all the accessories and to nail the details. I could have asked about the design and work and material choices for days but the question the asshole asks “What size are your boobs” . . .

  6. ebutler says

    I think the purpose of this is to cut down the pre-ops who can’t afford surgery. In the pre-ops who can’t afford surgery, you have a very vulnerable group to this kind of abuse; you can fill them with a sense of shame and then let everyone look at their sense of shame and know their pathetic status. It’s a way to keep those down who are already down. The ones that are up, the post-ops, many of them don’t really care about the pre-ops who can’t afford surgery, cuz they got theirs, so to some extent they’ve been co-opted: There is not as much a need to cut down the post-ops. Of course, the non-ops, who have less need for expensive medical procedures, are free from being cut down like this. (Then again, non-ops can often still be cut down for not passing, because they can’t afford things like FFS.)

    When I read things like this, I get angry.

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