Laverne Cox, a transgender rights activist and actress on the hit Netflix dark comedy ‘Orange is the New Black’, wrote an open message early this morning on her Tumblr account expressing her thoughts and emotions as they pertain to Caitlyn Jenner’s formidable Vanity Fair magazine cover revealed yesterday.
Just over a year ago, Cox herself was on the cover of a magazine — for TIME‘s The Transgender Tipping Point cover story — and found herself the unwitting target of media and cultural commentary (both praising and shaming). As with Jenner, many reached out to Cox to tell her she was “drop dead gorgeous” and “beautiful”, which, while meant in a supportive way, troubled her.
“I think they meant is that in certain lighting, at certain angles I am able to embody certain cisnormative beauty standards,” she wrote. “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.”
Cox goes on to make a plea for broader representation of trans people in media and entertainment, incorporating a more inclusive definition of beauty.
“We need diverse media representations of trans folks to multiply trans narratives in the media and depict our beautiful diversities,” she says. “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.”
Cox goes on to appeal to the public that Caitlyn’s efforts and bravery help progress the social acceptance of trans people.
“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,” she closes with. “The struggle continues…”