Happy birthday to the incredible Laverne Cox!
For her birthday, TIME decided to give Cox a cover profile. Check out excerpts from the interview here. I particularly love Cox’s response to a question about what people who don’t know anything about what being trans means should understand. She emphasizes that “there’s not just one trans experience” and that ”people need to be willing to let go of what they think they know about what it means to be a man and what it means to be a woman.” Ultimately, she says, we need to embrace the vulnerability that comes with questioning our rigid ideas about gender.
On Facebook, Cox offered some reflections about celebrating her birthday, after many years of not.
It feels truly revolutionary for a black trans woman from a working class background raised by a single mother to publicly declare that her life should be celebrated. Far too often our lives are treated as jokes, spectacles. Our bodies far too often objectified, sensationalized, sexualized, our identities stigmatized. For too many years I internalized this cultural stigma. Today on my birthday I declare that my life and the lives of my trans siblings should be celebrated, our stories and voices valorized while we are here on this planet and not just when we ate gone.
After the jump, check out a powerful video of Cox’s response to a six-year-old named Soleil who asked her how to deal with being bullied.
Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing.