Celebrating Our Transgender Icons
June 3, 2014 by Jay Brown, Director of Research and Public Education
Following the historic TIME cover story on Laverne Cox, The National Review recently published a horribly transphobic piece titled “Laverne Cox is Not a Woman.” Written by Kevin Williamson, whose blog typically covers finance and debt, the piece consistently misgenders Cox and calls all transgender people “delusional.”
In a post today on The Daily Dot, Jen Richards – transgender activist and co-director of the Trans 100 – so artfully fired back it’s difficult to quote just a section.
For example, there’s this:
“Those of us who depart from the expectations of our assigned gender are all too accustomed to such rhetoric. Our consolation is that this position will seldom be held by anyone who knows us. Our friends, families, neighbors, and colleagues are generally confronted with a banal and simple realization that contradicts what folks like Williamson continue to see as shocking: we are happier and more productive when our authentic gender is affirmed…."
And there’s this:
"Transgender people do not harm society—we are harmed by it. No amount of fabricated stories and fever dreams about bathroom or locker room violations change the facts. Transgender people are discriminated against, face the highest rates of unemployment, homelessness, and suicide; we are made to feel unsafe in schools and on public transportation; we are kicked out of appropriate shelters, mocked, harassed, attacked, and murdered."
Richards continues on illuminating the harsh reality that face transgender women, transgender people of color and transgender people who are poor and forced into underground economies.
“Laverne Cox, like writer Janet Mock, has become an icon precisely because she embodies these intersectional identities and has nonetheless triumphed over them, achieving success and finding her story celebrated. Cox is a possibility model, not just for trans women of color, but to all who find themselves marginalized for who they are."
She then gets to the heart of why Williamson’s piece should be reviled not just for its vitriol but for what it means to anybody asserting themselves as a transgender ally.
“To witness such a moment occur and respond as Williamson did goes beyond mere ignorance. To utterly ignore science and history in favor of one's own biases tips over into arrogance. Basic respect doesn’t even require belief or agreement, so to go even further and intentionally misgender Cox is undisguised cruelty. It is an implicit endorsement of every injustice trans people face.”
We won’t justify Williamson’s piece with a link. But we do encourage as many clicks to the TIME cover story and Richards’ piece as humanly possible: “Laverne Cox is a woman—and publishing transphobia is a disgrace to us all.”
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