"'The Book of Mormon' just launched its national tour in Colorado, so I was able to get a sit-down with [creators] Matt Stone and Trey Parker, " said Eden Lane, the host of Colorado Public Television's "In Focus with Eden Lane," a weekly interview program highlighting arts and culture, discussing a recent trip to New York. "And I interviewed the stars, including Gavin Creel, who is the most charming fellow you ever met!"
She was beaming with excitement, hugely passionate about her work and the show, now in its fifth season. Each week Lane speaks with artists, writers, directors, performers and others in theater, dance, music, film and television, drawing them out with her warm and inviting personality. And while her program is focused on her interview subjects, she, too, is sometimes in the spotlight, making history as the only known openly transgender mainstream television broadcaster in U.S., something that Lane says just sort of happened, and was nothing she ever set out to do.
"I've been told that, for mainstream television, I'm the only broadcast journalist that is known to be transgender," she said in an interview on my SiriusXM OutQ radio program. "I transitioned, in the way that your radio listeners will understand, almost a decade ago. I became a married, suburban housewife and mom, and never really intended to step in the spotlight. If I had known that nobody else was identified as transgender as a news journalist on television, I probably wouldn't have done it. I probably would have been too afraid."
Though she had been in television in years past, Lane didn't expect to get back into the business.
"I started working on television in Colorado just by accident," she said. "I was a guest on a panel for 'Colorado Outspoken,' which was an LGBT [television] newsmagazine. I was invited back again, and started being invited to do segments. I had done work in television but not since I had transitioned. So all of that work experience, all of that education, wasn't something I could publicize and own, because it was under a different name and a different identity. And without wanting to publicize that, so that there's that obvious 'before' and 'after' 'comparison, I just had to start from scratch. And I never really intended to. It just sort of happened that way. When the station was looking for extra help in covering the Democratic National Convention [in 2008 in Denver], I stepped up and worked for the station outside of the LGBT program. And then got offered a chance to have a platform to do this kind of programming."
Lane hadn't kept the fact that she is transgender a secret by any means, but, in her role as an interviewer she focused on her subjects and not herself, so she hadn't been overtly public about it either. She was thus a bit surprised when her transgender identity suddenly was highlighted in the media, when she was doing some political reporting for Colorado Public Television, outside of her regular show.
"A couple of years ago, during political coverage, on my political programming, my background became part of the story, became part of a campaign tool against a couple of my subjects, both Democrat and Republican, for sitting down with me," she said. "I had never really thought of myself as a transgender figure. Some journalists found nuggets of the interviews and they had to throw in there that this was an interview with a transgender journalist."
It was for that reason that she decided to give an interview to The Denver Post last week and speak in depth about her experience, her family, her upbringing and her life today. "It was just a way to get it all said, and not address it over and over again," she said.
Lane says she gets letters from gay and transgender teens, and from parents. She finds it rewarding, if sometimes a huge responsibility, being one of the few openly transgender public figures in television. There's also sometimes the pressure from activists to be more outspoken. But Lane feels she has a different, specific role to play.
"Once in a while, I may be asked to identify myself and make a statement in a certain way," she explained. "I think that would undermine the meaning of my work, not just for my work's sake, but for the very reason they're wanting to identify me as a transgender broadcaster. If I were to make political statements, then that that undermines my credibility as a journalist. And if that's the point, that I'm a journalist first, and that people are tuning in to watch my program not because I'm talking exclusively about LGBT issues, but all sorts of things, then for me to step up and try to be a political figure would undermine that work and really rob us all of a chance to have a different kind of example available."
Listen to the full interview here:
Update on October 28 at 2:55pm: It has been brought to our attention that Andrea Sears is also an openly transgender broadcast journalist. In a statement to The Huffington Post she states," I am a transsexual woman and I have been the news editor and anchor at WBAI/Pacifica Radio in New York City for about 17 years. I transitioned on the job almost twelve years ago, which is about as open as you can get, and I have worked continuously since then as a broadcast journalist." We thank Sears for writing in and congratulate her on her achievements. Eden Lane remains -- as far as we know -- the only openly transgender mainstream television journalist.
Also on HuffPost:
The Brazilian supermodel was discovered by Givenchy designer Riccardo Tisci when <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/lea-givenchys-transgender-star-brazilian-supermodel-undergoing-sex/story?id=11269995#.TsV9BGVPlcg" target="_hplink">he hired her as his personal assistant</a>. Soon after she became his muse and her modeling career began. She has been featured in high-profile fashion magazines like "Vogue Paris," "Hercules," "Interview," "Love," and "Cover."
Silveira is the lead singer of the band The Cliks. The Cliks made history as <a href="http://www.phinli.com/Talent/Profile/lucas-silveira" target="_hplink">the first band with an openly trans male leader</a> signed by a major record label, Tommy Boy Entertainment's imprint Silver Label. In 2009 he made history again as the f<a href="http://www.chartattack.com/news/78485/avril-lavigne-lights-tegan-and-sara-cliks-franz-ferdinand-sloan-win-in-15th-annual-year-e" target="_hplink">irst transman to be voted Canada's Sexiest Man</a> by readers of Canadian music magazine <em>Chart Attack</em>.
The son of Cher and Sonny Bono, Chaz publicly revealed <a href="http://www.tvguide.com/News/Chastity-Bono-Gender-1006849.aspx" target="_hplink">he was transitioning in 2009</a> and since then has been one of the most visible members of the trans community. In May he published his memoir, "Transition: The Story Of How I Became A Man," and this fall he was a contestant on "Dancing With The Stars" and was named one of <em>Out</em> magazine's <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/08/chaz-bono-shows-off-his-stubble-in-out_n_1082303.html" target="_hplink">100 LGBT people of the year.</a>
Richards is an ophthalmologist, author, and former professional tennis player. After transitioning in 1975, she <a href="http://www.tennispanorama.com/archives/9472" target="_hplink">was banned from playing in the U.S. Open</a> by the United States Tennis Association (USTA) because only biological women were allowed to participate in the tournament. Richards fought the ban and a 1977 New York Supreme Court decision ruled in her favor. She continued to play until 1981. This fall <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/27/renee-richards-film_n_854578.html" target="_hplink">a documentary about Richards's life</a>, "Renée," was released.
King was the first (and, thus far, only) <a href="https://www.facebook.com/isisking" target="_hplink">trans model to be featured</a> on the reality fashion competition "America's Next Top Model." She was seen on both the 11th and 17th "cycles" of the show.
In 2008 Thomas Beatie became famous when he revealed that he was pregnant with his first child. Soon after Beatie and his wife, Nancy, made headlines and he became known as "the pregnant man." The couple now has three children, all carried by Thomas, and he recently revealed that he is <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/31/pregnant-man-thomas-beati_n_1067326.html" target="_hplink">considering undergoing a hysterectomy.</a>
Marci Bowers, M.D.
Dr. Marci Bowers is a <a href="http://marcibowers.com/" target="_hplink">pioneer in the field of transgender transitional surgery</a> and is the first known trans woman to perform these types of procedures.. After practicing in Trinidad, Colo., which is known as the "sex change capital of the world" due to the high number of surgeries performed there, she moved her practice to San Mateo, California, in December 2010.
Cayne made history when she accepted a role on "Dirty Sexy Money" and became the first transgender actress to play a recurring transgender character in prime time. She's also appeared on "Nip/Tuck," "RuPaul's Drag Race," and "Necessary Roughness."
Kim Coco Iwamoto
In 2006 Iwamoto was <a href="http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,229937,00.html#ixzz1eCixXAuI" target="_hplink">elected to a position on Hawaii's state Board of Education</a> and became (at the time) the highest-elected transgender official in the United States. She <a href="http://hawaii.gov/elections/results/2010/general/files/histatewide.pdf" target="_hplink">ran for re-election in 2010</a> and won.
Kye Allums is the <a href="http://www.lgbtqnation.com/2011/10/lgbt-history-month-kye-allums-first-openly-transgender-athlete/" target="_hplink">first openly transgender athlete to play NCAA Division I</a> college basketball. He was a shooting guard on the George Washington University women's basketball team until this year when he decided to no longer play. Allums is now busy speaking about his life around the country.
Sylvia Rivera (1951 - 2002)
A veteran of the 1969 Stonewall uprising (some claim she threw the first heel), Rivera fought for the rights of all queer people, not just those who fit into more homonormative molds. Described by Riki Wilchins as "<a href="http://www.villagevoice.com/2002-02-26/news/a-woman-for-her-time/" target="_hplink">the Rosa Parks of the modern transgender movement</a>," Rivera founded Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, or STAR, "a radical group that did everything from marching to setting up crash pads as an alternative to the streets," among other activist roles. Today <a href="http://srlp.org/" target="_hplink">The Sylvia Rivera Law Project,</a> which works to guarantee that all people are free to self-determine gender identity and expression regardless of income or race, and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/pages/SYLVIAS-PLACE/156906310002" target="_hplink">Sylvia's Place</a>, a NYC emergency homeless shelter for LGBT youth, both exist to honor Rivera's life and work.
Michael Dillon (1915 - 1962)
Dillon was the first person known to have transitioned both hormonally and surgically from female to male. A British writer, physician, philosopher, and Buddhist, Dillon penned several books including, "Self: A Study in Ethics and Endocrinology" (1946), "Growing Up into Buddhism" (1960), "The Life of Milarepa" (1962), "Imji Getsul" (1962), and numerous articles. He was in love with another famous transgender person, Roberta Cowell, but she did not share his feelings. He died in India -- where he had moved to study, meditate, and wrote under the name Lobzang Jivaka -- just days after sending his memoir, "Out Of The Ordinary," to his literary agent.
Cowell is the first British trans woman to undergo sex-reassignment surgery. She transitioned in 1951. Prior to that, she was a Spitfire pilot during World War II and a race car driver. Cowell, who was friends with transgender man Michael Dillon, transitioned a year before celebrated American trans woman <a href="http://www.transgenderzone.com/features/ChristineJorgensen.htm" target="_hplink">Christine Jorgenson</a> underwent surgery in Denmark. You can <a href="http://www.changelingaspects.com/Life Stories/Roberta Cowells Story.htm" target="_hplink">read Cowell's autobiography here</a>.
Sanchez worked tirelessly in the LGBT community before he became the <a href="http://www.examiner.com/transgender-transsexual-issues-in-national/diego-sanchez-trans-man-on-capitol-hill-works-for-passage-of-inclusive-enda" target="_hplink">first trans person to hold a senior congressional staff position</a> on Capitol Hill. In December 2008 he began working for Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) tracking LGBT, healthcare, veterans, and labor issues.
The <a href="http://katebornstein.typepad.com/" target="_hplink">writer, playwright, and performance artist</a> is the author of several seminal tomes on gender theory including 1994's "Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us" and in 2006 she wrote "Hello Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks and Other Outlaws." She is currently at work on a memoir.
The world's first female-to-male porn star, Angel also works as an advocate, educator, lecturer and writer. In 2007 <a href="http://buckangel.com/bio.html" target="_hplink">Angel won the Adult Video News Transsexual Performer of the Year</a> award and was written into Armistead Maupin's "Michael Tolliver Lives," one of the novels in the "Tales Of The City" series. He has spoken around country, including an appearance at Yale University in 2010.
In 2011 Grodzka became Poland's <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/11/anna-grodzka-transgender-politician_n_1004840.html" target="_hplink">first openly transgender parliamentarian</a>. She is the third transgender MP in world history after the transsexual New Zealand MP Georgina Beyer, and the transgender Italian MP, Vladimir Luxuria, who has not had a legal sex change. Grodzka, who transitioned last year, secured a place in the Sejm, the nation's lower house of parliament. "Today, Poland is changing. I am the proof..." Grodzka said.
Billy Tipton (1914 - 1989)
Tipton was a saxophone and piano player and bandleader popular during the 1940's and '50s. He eventually settled down in Spokane, Washington, got married, and adopted three sons. It wasn't until after his death from a <a href="http://news.stanford.edu/stanfordtoday/ed/9705/9705fea601.shtml" target="_hplink">hemorrhaging ulcer</a> that Tipton's birth gender was revealed to his sons and the rest of the world.
Rasmussen became the <a href="http://www.sturasmussen.com/realityCheck.htm" target="_hplink">first transgender mayor in the United States</a> when he was elected to the office in Silverton, Oregon, in November 2008. He writes on <a href="http://www.sturasmussen.com/realityCheck.htm" target="_hplink">his website</a>: <blockquote>"I just happen to be transgendered -- something I didn't even know the word for until I discovered it on the Internet. I've been a crossdresser or transvestite my whole life, only 'coming out' recently and thereby discovering that life goes on very nicely."</blockquote>
Louis Gradon Sullivan (1955 - 1991)
In 1976 <a href="http://www.lousullivansociety.org/about-lou-sullivan.html" target="_hplink">Lou G. Sullivan began applying for</a> sex-reassignment surgery, but was rejected because he identified as gay. At the time, "female-to-gay male transsexuality was not recognized by the medical/psychotherapeutic establishment as a legitimate form of gender dysphoria at that time." After mounting a successful campaign to get homosexuality removed from a list of objections which served to keep interested candidates from undergoing surgery, Sullivan finally obtained genital reconstruction surgery in 1986. That same year <a href="http://www.lousullivansociety.org/about-lou-sullivan.html" target="_hplink">he organized FTM</a>, "the first peer-support group devoted entirely to female-to-male [transsexual and transvestite] individuals."