Laverne Cox Writes Moving Essay About Caitlyn Jenner's 'Vanity Fair' Cover
The world went aflutter on Monday when Vanity Fair released their magazine with Caitlyn Jenner on the cover. While there has been an outpouring of support for Jenner, where many have commented on how beautiful she is, Laverne Cox says that she agrees, but hopes that people see more to transgender people than just their looks.
Cox, the 31-year-old transgender actress from Orange is the New Black, penned a moving essay on her blog early this morning. She expressed her support for Jenner and the trans community. "I am so moved by all the love and support Caitlyn is receiving," Cox wrote. "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."
She added, "Yes, Caitlyn looks amazing and is beautiful but what I think is most beautiful about her is her heart and soul, the ways she has allowed the world into her vulnerabilities."
In the Vanity Fair interview, Jenner, an Olympic decathlon champion and reality TV star associated with the Kardashians, said Cox, Janet Mock, Genna Rocero and Carmen Carrera were some of the "pioneers" in the transgender community who helped inspire her own transition. "Back in the '80s, I was alone," Jenner said. "I’m kind of following in their footsteps. They made it easier for me. I hope, with my honesty, I can make it easier for somebody else down the line."
Jenner's cover photo made Cox reflect upon her own image. Even though Cox has been featured in photo shoots where she tries to assert powerful, sexy and "racially empowering images" as a black transgender woman as a means to "create inspiring images" for her fans and the world, she said that she hoped that it was more than her looks that inspired people. She hoped her intelligence, talent and spirit was the driving force behind it.
Last May, Cox was featured on the cover of TIME, accompanied by the headline, "The Transgender Tipping Point." Cox wrote on her blog about the problems with the social standards of cisnormative beauty:
A year ago when my TIME magazine cover came out I saw posts from many trans folks saying that I am “drop dead gorgeous” and that that doesn’t represent most trans people. (It was news to be that I am drop dead gorgeous but I’ll certainly take it). But what I think they meant is that in certain lighting, at certain angles I am able to embody certain 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 representations of trans folks to multiply trans narratives in the media and depict our beautiful diversities.
Cox noted that most trans people don't have the privileges she and Jenner have, and that we must lift those 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," Cox wrote. "The struggle continues…"