Actress shares gender-bending journey
When you feel isolated, we will console.
When you face adversity, we will challenge.
When you seek protection, we will offer compassion.
How do we conquer shaming? Empathy.
Empathy is the antidote to shame.
A young child was chased every day after school, for years on end, for not acting rough n tough like the other boys. The same child who fell in love with Gone with The Wind impersonated a sassy Scarlett O’Hara with a hand fan and was ordered by a teacher to seek therapy. She is transgender.
A woman was cat called while walking home and before uttering one word, she was brutally beaten by a man because he felt that his manhood was being challenged. The woman was pronounced brain dead upon arrival. She was transgender.
“I stand before you as a proud transgender woman of color. I am an artist, an activist, and sister…I have multiple identities because I am not just one thing, and neither are you,” said Laverne Cox, groundbreaking actress who is changing the way we see labels.
Laverne Cox, Orange is the New Black star, recounted pivotal moments in her life when each passing milestone came with it’s own heft of disapproval from her family, peers, and the entertainment industry.
The advocate sported a black ensemble, lace-up nude boots, exuding elegance. Cox took the stage and with a combination of humor and heavyhearted tales, embraced how each hardship gave her the opportunity to rise above the abundance of hate and rejection. When once asked as a third grader what separates boys from girls, Cox answered ‘nothing.’
As time progressed, the actress realized that her statement still holds true. It is others being insecure within their own sexuality that projects onto public displays of oppression. On one occasion, the star described her first experience being cat called by two men. One man only saw Cox as the women she projected, while the other tried to bring attention to the fact that she was in fact trans. It was then that Cox immediately felt ‘spooked’, meaning that the world was not reflecting back what she has strived so hard to evolve into. She immediately felt visible and unsafe.
“Most trans women feel like being cat called is validating their womanhood,” said Cox. Overlooking differences such as hand and foot size, voice, and broad shoulders means that people are beautiful because of those things the activist proclaimed. Her journey to self-expression took her New York City. The big apple was a splitting image of Party Monster in which this magical place embraces and values people who are different.
Out of the packed auditorium, one attendee brave enough to share his story with the South Texan, is all too familiar with the struggle of being his true self.
Steven Brunt, Houston spectator who identifies as a trans man, noted that he was participating on a swim team, but soon left after being ridiculed and shamed for transitioning. Brunt sought advice from Cox on whether or not he should pursue his passion in spite of the hostile threat the environment would impose. She praised Chris Mosier, the first trans athlete to make the Olympic team for prompting a change in the guidelines and inclusiveness.
“If I could take away one thing from tonight, it would be to never give up on myself…like [Cox] said, I didn’t grow up having a role model to look up to and it was difficult being on a team where you’re around everyone and told what is and isn’t right,” Brunt said.
He plans to get back in the gym and hit the pool, rejuvenated with an instilled sense of hope for a promising future.
Other attendees included the Coastal Bend Trans Alliance organization.
“To have a strong, powerful, black, trans woman come to South Texas will shed some light. Those who aren’t aware of gender identity will hopefully walk away and be able to tackle ignorance they encounter. Listening to someone who has experience more struggles than I have as a young, gay male living with HIV. I feel empowered…like I can conquer anything,” a representative said.