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Laverne Cox Reflects on Caitlyn Jenner and What We Can Do for Trans Women of Color


On June 1st, actress Laverne Cox took to tumblr to reflect on the love and support Caitlyn Jenner received for her Vanityfair cover.

She writes:
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. 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!” But this has made me reflect critically on my own desires to ‘work a photo shoot’, to serve up various forms of glamour, power, sexiness, body affirming, racially empowering images of the various sides of my black, trans womanhood.
In her essay she explains that although she and Caitlyn Jenner have access to the resources that allow them to embody certain cisnormative beauty standards, many trans people do not have access to these resources nor do all trans people desire to embody 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 infomed 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. This is why we need diverse media representstions of trans folks to multiply trans narratives in the media and depict our beautiful diversities.

She then explains #TransIsBeautiful, a hashtag she started as an inclusive way to celebrate and uplift all trans people.
I started #TransIsBeautiful as a way to celebrate all those things that make trans folks uniquely trans, those things that don’t necessarily align with cisnormative beauty standards. For me it is necessary everyday to celebrate every aspect of myself especially those things about myself that don’t align with other people’s ideas about what is beautiful. #TransIsBeautiful is about, whether you’re trans or not, celebrating all those things that make us uniquely ourselves. Most trans folks don’t have the privileges Caitlyn and I have now have. 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.
Read Laverne's full post here.

Alexis Jackson is a visual artist, writer, and editorial assistant at For Harriet. You can follow her on twitter @_alexisjacks.

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