colonizerChris Cuomo” was basically the reaction of Pose stars Indya Moore and Angelica Ross, along with other members and advocates of the transgender community, after the CNN host made an insensitive remark about preferred pronouns during an LGBTQ-focused “Equality Town Hall” event hosted by the network.
As the Los Angeles Times reports, the incident happened Thursday as Democratic presidential hopeful and U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) took to the stage.
In greeting the audience, Harris shared, “My pronouns are she, her and hers,” which was met with applause—as well as a (needless) “quip” by Cuomo:
“She, her and hers?” he repeated. “Mine too,” he said, to which Harris replied simply, “All right.”
The uncomfortable encounter lasted less than 10 seconds but sparked immediate backlash from the LGBTQ community and its allies on Twitter, who held Cuomo, known to use the pronouns he, him and his, accountable for the gaffe.
Cuomo issued an apology and declared himself an ally of the LGBTQ community, tweeting in part: “When Sen. Harris said her pronouns were she her and her’s, I said mine too. 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.”
Moore, Ross and other community members were having none of it.
As Ross told the Hollywood Reporter, dismissing pronoun preference, a matter of human rights and respect, or other issues involving the trans community—especially when black trans women, in particular, are being murdered at an alarming rate nationwide—is no laughing matter:
“It’s wrong because he doesn’t understand that trans people are tired of being the butts of jokes,” Ross, who uses the pronouns she, her and hers, said of Cuomo. “And when we finally get a time where we think our issues are going to be taken seriously at an LGBTQ town hall, folks — like Chris, who are there to moderate and get down to the answers for us — show that they have no understanding of issues that seem like a joke to them, but are very real to me and my community.”
In a tweet sent in response to Cuomo’s apology, Moore, who uses the pronouns they, them and theirs, responded, “Trans people’s pain and trauma is comedic relief not just to you, but to a vast part of this country,” as part of the following post:
Thursday’s event was one during which black trans folk from all walks of life said that they were not going to take being dismissed or disregarded.
At another point during the town hall, Blossom Brown, a black trans woman, took pains to interrupt the event — for a very important message: Black trans lives matter. And she took to task the moderators for not giving black trans folk the floor.
As Root senior writer Michael Harriot recounted, an earnest Brown grabbed the mic at one point and shared with the audience and the nation:
“I’m so sorry. I don’t want to take this away from you,” said Brown. “But 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. Let me tell you something, black trans women are dying, our lives matter! I am an extraordinary black trans woman, and I deserve to be here.”
Indeed. And none of it is a cause for laughter.