ABC's This Week Devotes Over Six Minutes to 'Transgender Tipping Point'

Rather than cover continuing developments in Gaza and in Ukraine, ABC's This Week devoted six and a half minutes to promoting transgender issues as the new civil rights movement. Highlighting the star of Orange is the New Black, Jon Karl trumpeted, "[Laverne] Cox's role is just one in a growing number reflective of the transgender community now coming of age in mainstream America." 

This Week guest host Jon Karl hosted two segments on the topic and offered almost no voice to anyone who may disagree. An ABC graphic wondered, "Transgender Tipping Point?" 

The only difference of opinion came when reporter Byron Pitts noted: 

BYRON PITTS: Despite the latest research and growing numbers, there is push back. California's controversial law, A.B. 1226 allows transgendered children in public school to use facilities and participate in activities based on their gender identity. Opponents call it "The Co-Ed Bathroom Bill."

KAREN ENGLAND (Privacy for All Students): We want to protect all children and -- and especially the 99 percent that are going to have their privacy invaded by this intrusive law.

In a follow-up report, Karl talked to Mara Keisling of the National Center for Transgendered Equality and a liberal journalist from Rolling Stone, Sabrina Rubin Erderly. Karl empathized, "Sabrina, you -- you've written a lot about the challenges. And this is still a very marginalized community." 

A partial transcript is below: 


8/17/14

10:49

[Orange is the New Black clip]

ABC Graphic: Transgender Tipping Point? Community Seeks Equal Rights 

JON KARL: "Orange is the New Black," one of its breakout stars, Laverne Cox, a woman born biologically male, became the first transgender Emmy acting nominee. There she was on the red carpet just last night, although she didn't win. Cox is using her fame to shine a spotlight on transgender issues. Here's ABC's chief national correspondent, Byron Pitts.

LAVERNE COX, ACTRESS: You've got the wrong girl.

BYRON PITTS: She's one of the stars of Netflix's hit show, Orange is the New Black, actress Laverne Cox, a transgender woman in real life playing a transgender inmate in a female prison.

COX: There's so many trans folks who've said that they see themselves reflected in this character.

PITTS: Cox's role is just one in a growing number reflective of the transgender community now coming of age in mainstream America. On Broadway, Neil Patrick Harris winning a Tony for his performance in "Hedwig and the Angry Inch." Online with Facebook users now able to choose between 56 different options for gender identities. And in fashion, with Barney's Department Store featuring an ad campaign with transgender models. All a far cry from Cox's childhood as a young boy in Alabama.

COX: As trans, I was bullied and -- and it internalized a lot of shame about who I was as a child.

PITTS (on camera): Bullied because?

COX: Bullied because of my gender expression, bullied because I didn't act the way someone assigned male at birth was supposed to act. There is a cultural environment where trans people are told who we are is a mistake and that we should try to be someone else.

PITTS (voice-over): It's estimated there are nearly a million transgender men and women in America, many of them teenagers like 18-year-old like Isaac Barnett  and 17-year-old Michael Galvin.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wasn't actually a girl except physically. I don't have to live a lie anymore.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I suffered for so many years because people said it was just a phase and that I'd grow out of it. And when I look in the mirror now, I see myself.

PITTS: High school classmates in Kansas City, Isaac and Michael were born girls. They came out to the world as transgender in a YouTube video.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've been living more like a guy since elementary school.

DR. JILL JACOBSON (Children's Mercy Hospital): It used to be thought that one in 40,000 people had gender dysphoria. Now, surveys are suggesting it may be as high as one in 250.

PITTS: Gender dysphoria is now a medical diagnoses for those feeling a disconnect between their assigned and perceived gender. Despite the latest research and growing numbers, there is push back. California's controversial law, A.B. 1226 allows transgendered children in public school to use facilities and participate in activities based on their gender identity. Opponents call it "The Co-Ed Bathroom Bill."

KAREN ENGLAND (Privacy for All Students): We want to protect all children and -- and especially the 99 percent that are going to have their privacy invaded by this intrusive law.

PITTS: But according to the latest polling, 89 percent of Americans agree, transgendered people deserve the same legal rights and protection. Even Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel waded into these ever shifting waters.

CHUCK HAGEL, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Every qualified American who wants to serve our country should have an opportunity.

PITTS: As for Laverne Cox, her success on television has given voice to many who once felt voiceless.

COX: Having your story told validates your experience. It's like I'm not alone anymore. And maybe I will be okay.

PITTS: For This Week, Byron Pitts, ABC News, Kansas City.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org