'I think it's important to celebrate achievements,' says Lane

By Steve Helling
February 21, 2015 03:25 PM
Courtesy Eden Lane

When Zoey Tur landed a job as a special correspondent for Inside Edition, pundits wondered how audiences would react. Transgender reporters are a rarity on television, and they face unique challenges in such a public career.

No one understands those challenges more than Eden Lane, a transgender reporter and TV host who has appeared on KBDI/Colorado Public Television since 2008. She is considered the first transgender reporter on mainstream television – and has interviewed everyone from gubernatorial candidates to celebrities.

Lane had always been attracted to journalism. “It was something that I knew I could do well,” she tells PEOPLE, “and I wanted to do it very much.”

Lane has a very nuanced backstory. “I was medically identified as male at birth,” Lane explains, “but by school, I was socialized as female.”

Despite knowing that audiences could be cruel, Lane still decided to follow her dream to be an on-air reporter. In 2008, she covered Colorado’s gubernatorial elections; that turned into a regular hosting and reporting role at the station. She now covers the arts, which she points out is more than fluff pieces. “Arts is a big part of our economy here; there are some very significant facets to what I cover.”

And the viewers generally accepted her, although she initially received some angry and threatening emails. Soon, however, they started to taper off.

“I do read my mail, all of it,” she says. “There have been some threats over the years, but it has honestly been a long time since that happened. I am grateful that my audience has not made it about me, but about my work.”

Despite the emails, her station stuck with her the whole way – and even greenlit In Focus with Eden Lane, a show built around her.

“I’m so grateful to my station for taking a chance with me,” Lane says. “I wanted to be a journalist, not the ‘first trans journalist.’ I didn’t have an agenda. I wanted to – and still want to – do good work. I never hid who I was, but I didn’t lead with it, either. I am just another journalist who wants to be good at what I do.”

Lane tells PEOPLE that she’s thrilled that Zoey Tur will reach a national audience. “I think it’s important to celebrate the achievements of other women who step out in the spotlight,” she says. “I’m very happy for her.”

But Lane insists that it shouldn’t be all about the reporter. “The best compliment I can receive as a journalist is about the quality of my work, and not about myself as a person,” she says. “Of course I’ll get compliments about my earrings or dress, and I’m glad that means people are watching, but the most meaningful feedback is when someone says, ‘That was a really good interview. I learned a lot.’ “