May 7th, 2015

planet

I saw Laverne Cox!

Last week the fabulous Laverne Cox was in Wichita Kansas - actress from Orange is the New Black, activist, public speaker! Wichita State's office of diversity brought her in and PACKED this auditorium with college students and everybody else on my facebook feed, it was the event of the season from what I could tell on my (biased, yes) circle of friends.

She told us the amazing story of growing up in the south and knowing from such a young age that she should be a woman, struggling with the idea that her identity was a sin, trying to push it away. Then growing up to study dance and acting in New York, feeling beautiful and accepted in the scene she'd found, transitioning to live as a woman, and now she's this amazingly successful actress.

But even with all her success in her life, she still feels unsafe. It's interesting to hear from a trans woman living in New York City, this will sound crazy but all the trans people I know live in farms in Kansas. They keep to themselves and everyone in their fucked up little towns just knows them and either ostracizes or accepts them, there's no in between, they know what they're going to run into every day. But they are all alone and I know they feel isolated. In an urban setting, you're always more likely to find people like yourself - but you also never know who you'll run into on the street. Violence towards trans people is a looming scary issue that never goes away. A trans woman will hear someone scream, "YOU'RE A MAAAAN!" and then what's about to happen? They never know, they live with this threat, who's going to hate them and snap, there are murders in the news, the murderers aren't brought to justice.

She repeated this Cornel West quote, "Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public."

She also gave the impression that she is not trying to pass as someone who's gender was assigned woman from day 1. It is beautiful to be a trans woman. She wants people to recognize her struggle, and wants us to accept together that gender is something we decide for ourselves. It was a light bulb for me.

Her speech was about an hour long and I was hooked on every word, she's an amazing speaker and so expressive. She talked about race, feminism, intersectionality, and over and over reinforced the point that trans lives matter, black lives matter. It has to be safer in our world to be trans, and black, and a woman, and every intersection.

If Laverne Cox comes anywhere within 200 miles of where you live, pay to see her, your week will be made!