Laverne Cox lauded Caitlyn Jenner — who recently shared her story on the cover of Vanity Fair — for helping the transgender movement take another monumental step towards equality in a sharp, poignant note on her Tumblr that also served as a reminder of the numerous obstacles many transgender men and women continue to face.
“It feels like a new day, indeed, when a trans person can present her authentic self to the world for the first time and be celebrated for it so universally,” wrote Cox, who, almost a year ago to the day, appeared on the cover of Time proclaiming the “Transgender Tipping Point.” “Many have commented on how gorgeous Caitlyn looks in her photos, how she is ‘slaying for the Gods.’ I must echo these comments in the vernacular, ‘Yasss Gawd! Werk Caitlyn! Get it!'”
The Orange Is the New Black star, however, quickly turned a critical eye towards the problematic nature of photo shoots and her own participation in them. While Cox copped to her desire to create and project “empowering images of the various sides of [her] black, trans womanhood,” she wrote, “I also hope that it is my talent, my intelligence, my heart and spirit that most captivate, inspire, move and encourage folks to think more critically about the world around them.”
Cox wrote that it was these intangibles that she found most inspiring and beautiful in Jenner’s story, especially Jenner’s ability to make herself vulnerable before the entire world and “her courage to move past denial into her truth so publicly.”
Still, Cox was aware that physical beauty often takes precedent over these qualities. While Cox said she had been flattered by remarks that she looked “drop dead gorgeous” on the cover of Time, she noted that such a compliment was rooted in her ability to embody cisnormative standards of beauty.
These standards, she wrote, are not representative of the trans community as a whole. Many transgender people, whether because of genetics, financial means or personal preference, cannot, or have no interest in, conforming to such standards, Cox said. The actress urged for a continued proliferation of trans narratives that reflect this reality and “celebrate all those things that make trans folks uniquely trans.”
“Most trans folks don’t have the privileges Caitlyn and I have now have,” Cox wrote. “It is those trans folks we must continue to lift up, get them access to healthcare, jobs, housing, safe streets, safe schools and homes for our young people. We must lift up the stories of 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.”