"One of the things that I learned about her in writing this book is that she changed her views even in her 90s," Hager told Cohen.
During the interview with Cohen, Hager spoke of a lunch between her late grandmother and Tim Naftali in October of 2015 where the discussion turned to the recent appointment of Sarah McBride by then-President Barack Obama -- McBride is now set to become the first trans State Senator in history. According to Naftali, Bush "wasn't against the hire" but instead "didn't understand why the White House should make such a point of a person's sexual identify." It's worth it to note that even in that, Bush misunderstood being transgender as sexuality as opposed to gender.
Naftali, who was the first director of Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in the former president's birthplace of Yorba Linda, California, recalled how he tagged along for the lunch with fellow historian and author Jon Meacham, and ended up explaining to Bush the "tremendously positive effect" that follows White House recognition of a group, especially one as ostracized and maligned as the trans community. His words left an immediate impact, as at this point Naftali recalled Bush stating "It is not a choice," to which he agreed.
The historian left the lunch thinking he had gone too far in his discussions. The Bush matriarch was known for her biting tongue and long memory, but a letter written to Meacham a few days later showed he had underestimated the former First Lady.
"I so enjoyed the lunch and Tim won the argument or he changed my mind about so much," Naftali remembered her writing. "Transgenders are born that way ... Please tell him that at 90 I learned a lot from our lunch ..."
Hager told Cohen this ability to listen to others and change her views late in life showed the true character of her grandmother.
"My grandmother Barbara I think was kind of misunderstood. I think mainly because of the way she looked and some of the things she said, people thought she was a throwback, but she was actually kind of modern," Hager told host Andy Cohen, adding "If a 90-year-old woman can sit with an open heart and listen and change her views about anything, we all could do a little bit better of a job."