Orange Is the New Black actress Laverne Cox has a fabulous interview over at The Nation that’s really worth checking out, and it made me think of how thankful I am for her current presence in the spotlight. She tackles several issues, but I really love what she has to say on gender justice:
Rather than equality, it’s about justice. What does justice look like for trans and gender non-conforming people? I know that for some trans folks, a lot of them may not want to put that they’re transgender on a form. But then sometimes it does become important to claim that identity. It’s about giving folks the freedom to self-identify. How do we have gender freedom for everyone? Gender oppression is an issue for everyone. It’s about creating systems and policies that accommodate the lived experience of human beings. It’s about accommodating the totality of gender in terms of giving people multiple options in identifying themselves.
Orange has created much fodder for online discussion and debate, from folks understandably upset at the centering of whiteness in a story about prison to those holding all of the contradictions and enjoying its entertainment value. What is clear, though, as we’ve discussed here before, is that it has also created an unprecedented platform for the discussion of trans issues–and particularly the issues faced by trans women of color –on a pop culture level unforeseen before the show.
And Cox is an incredible messenger: talking about issues trans folks face in prison, shouting out amazing organizations like the Silvia Rivera Law Project that are doing meaningful work, and generally being a bad-ass. Thank you, Laverne Cox, for being an open, true, and fabulous voice for justice!