Let Ellen help you explain what transgender means to your family.
DeGeneres on Thursday spent close to 5 minutes on her daytime talk show discussing gender identity and some of the issues that transgender people can face. Former Olympian Bruce Jenner and the criticism he’s received may have inspired the entire segment.
Although Jenner has not confirmed anything, he is widely reported to be in the midst of transitioning from male to female.
DeGeneres invited Jill Soloway, the creator of the Amazon TV show Transparent, to discuss her experience having a parent who began transitioning to become a woman at the age of 74.
“The reason I wanted you [on the show] is because I want people to have more compassion,” DeGeneres said. “There are jokes [about Bruce Jenner] all the time and I’m hurt for him,” DeGeneres said.
DeGeneres went on to pretend she was oblivious about trans issues in order to ask simple questions and keep her audience informed. She asked questions such as what pronouns should be used when talking to a trans person. She also asked what the term transgender meant.
“A trans person is somebody who does not identify with the gender they were assigned at birth,” Soloway told DeGeneres.
It all resulted in a complex conversation presented to the show’s mostly straight, female audience. Many of them stay at home mothers who may go on to pass this information to their families.
“Just because you fear something or don’t understand it, don’t attack it, don’t make fun of it, it’s not fair, someone is going through the hardest thing in the world,” said DeGeneres, who almost two decades ago publicly declared she was a lesbian on her former sitcom.
DeGeneres has the most watched daytime television show amongst women ages 25-54. She also has one of the most watched YouTube channels—her channel is comfortably sandwiched between One Direction and Pit Bull.
The segment comes a few months after DeGeneres told her audience to not buy tabloids that were “bullying” Jenner.
The segment also comes during a heated political time for transgender people. Public officials in Florida, Texas, and Kentucky are considering proposals that would outlaw transgender people using the bathroom of their choice.
“[When trans people come out] they’re coming out to make a break for freedom for authenticity, and it really is an example for all of us about leading authentic lives,” Soloway told DeGeneres.