In a long and heartfelt post on her tumblr this morning, Laverne Cox shared some thoughts on Caitlyn Jenner’s “amazing” Vanity Fair cover as well as her own #TransIsBeautiful campaign. After saying Jenner’s most beautiful quality was “[allowing] the world into her vulnerabilities,” Cox went on to discuss that while a pretty picture on a famous magazine is a great step for the trans community, it’s far from the final one.
A year ago when my Time magazine cover came out I saw posts from many trans folks saying that I am “drop dead gorgeous” and that that doesn’t represent most trans people. (It was news to be that I am drop dead gorgeous but I’ll certainly take it). But what I think they meant is that in certain lighting, at certain angles I am able to embody certain cisnormative beauty standards.
Now, there are many trans folks because of genetics and/or lack of material access who will never be able to embody these standards. More importantly many trans folks don’t want to embody them and we shouldn’t have to to be seen as ourselves and respected as ourselves . It is important to note that these standards are also informed by race, class and ability among other intersections. I have always been aware that I can never represent all trans people. No one or two or three trans people can.
Though Monday’s overwhelmingly positive response to Jenner’s cover was wonderful to witness (I’ve never seen so many instances of “SLAAAYYYY” in my feeds), Cox went on to remind readers that “most trans folks don’t have the privileges [she and Caitlyn] now have” and that those who are fortunate enough should “continue to lift up...those most at risk, statistically trans people of color who are poor and working class.”
I hope, as I know Caitlyn does, that the love she is receiving can translate into changing hearts and minds about who all trans people are as well as shifting public policies to fully support the lives and well being of all of us. The struggle continues…
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Image via Getty.