Shelby Talcott on October 11, 2019
- CNN’s hours-long LGBTQ town hall Thursday evening saw much more than just 2020 Democratic presidential candidates speaking about their policy plans.
- Protesters interrupted the town hall and a transgender woman hijacked a microphone and began yelling about transgender women dying.
- Transgender children played a role too and a quip about pronouns prompted an apology from moderator Chris Cuomo.
CNN’s LGBTQ town hall Thursday turned into a night of drama as the event imploded into accusations, apologies and interruptions.
2020 Democratic presidential candidates took the stage in Los Angeles to answer questions about their policies regarding the LGBTQ community. The over four-hour-long event proved to be more eventful than just policy discussions.
A live studio audience allowed viewers to experience everything from protesters and apologies to accusations and transgender children.
Chris Cuomo faced backlash over quip about pronouns
A moment of contention occurred when California Sen. Kamala Harris came on stage. She noted that her pronouns are “she, her and hers” and moderator Chris Cuomo responded by saying “mine, too.” The comment sparked backlash on social media and Cuomo apologized on Twitter after he finished moderating his portion of the event.
“PLEASE READ: When Sen. Harris said her pronouns were she her and her’s, I said mine too,” Cuomo tweeted Thursday evening. “I should not have. I apologize. I am an ally of the LGBTQ community, and I am sorry because I am committed to helping us achieve equality. Thank you for watching our townhall.”
Transgender woman hijacks microphone from audience member
During another part of the town hall, a transgender woman took a microphone from an audience member and began to sound off about “anti-blackness” and the dangers black transgender women face. Moderator Don Lemon coaxed the microphone out of the transgender woman’s hand.
“Let me tell you something. Black trans women are being killed in this country, and CNN, you have erased black trans women for the last time,” Blossom C. Brown, the transgender woman, said. “Black trans women are dying. Our lives matter. I am an extraordinary black trans woman, and I deserve to be here. My black trans sisters that are here. I am so tired of … it’s not just my black trans women and black trans brothers, too. I’m going to say what I’m going to say.”
Lemon tried to calm Brown down by noting that the town hall was “proud and happy that you’re here” and reminding Brown that the event was under a time constraint.
Protesters interrupt 2020 presidential candidates
Protesters interrupted the hours-long town hall and went off about transgender people dying as well. The first round of protesters came as South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg took the stage. He was met with signs and shouts that “trans people are dying, do something!”
“I do want to acknowledge what these demonstrators were speaking about, which is the epidemic of violence against black trans women in this country right now,” Buttigieg said after moderator Anderson Cooper tried to calm the protesters down. “And I believe or would like to believe that everybody here is committed to ending that epidemic, and that does include lifting up its visibility and speaking to it.”
An audience member who inquired about how American can get “those men to stop killing trans women of color” also interrupted Harris. Harris promised Thursday to add transgender and gender-nonconforming people to positions of power if elected.
Moderator accused of violence for mispronouncing the name “Shea”
Another transgender woman spoke up during the event, this time going after moderator Nia Mikayla Henderson mispronounced the transgender woman’s name.
“It’s Shea Diamond,” the transgender woman said after making a face as Henderson mispronounced the name. “Put that on record. Yes, honey, it’s violence to misgender or to alter a name of a trans person, so let’s always get that right first.”
Former Housing and Development Secretary Julian Castro stood by quietly as Diamond accused Henderson of “violence.” The moderator apologized and said the correct pronunciation was put on the record.
Transgender children played a role in the event, too
Rachel Gonzalez, an audience member from Texas who has a 9-year-old transgender daughter, asked New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker a question.
“We know that the civil rights legislation did not end racism, and we know that the equality act will not end homophobia, transphobia or bias,” Gonzalez said. “As a leader, what will you do to change hearts and minds across the country to have true equity, safety and inclusion?”
CNN invited a transgender child to ask Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren a question, prompting cheers from both Warren and the audience, the Washington Examiner reported.
“My name’s Jacob, and I’m a 9-year-old transgender American,” the child said. “What will you do in your first week as president to make sure that kids like me feel safer in schools and what do you think schools need to do better to make sure that I don’t have to worry about anything but my homework?”
CNN also heard from former Vice President Joe Biden, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and businessman Tom Steyer Thursday evening.
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