On Everyday Feminism website, Laverne Cox speaks out on the intersection of transphobia, racism and misogyny. Within the supplied segment of her speech, several stories are mentioned which provide an insight to the everyday struggles a transgender individual might go through. These obstacles include constant catcalling whilst out in public, acts of homophobia and racialization, as well as judgement of one’s gender. Cox specifically draws on a personal experience of street catcalling, which she goes into detail about. The details she supplies, which include the catcallers questioning her on whether she is a “B” or an “N”, prove to be very disturbing and unreasonable to ask of someone.
While listening to Cox’s catcalling story, I could not help but feel slightly angry. I did not enjoy listening to how random individuals on the street who did not know her felt the need to categorize her by her race and gender. One should never have to identify themselves if they do not choose to. As well, I do not think it is necessary to have to explain oneself to anyone regarding anything, whether that be ones sexuality and gender or ones race and sexual orientation. Moreover, the story gets quite shocking and disturbing when Cox mentions that trans women of colour are the most targeted victims of violence in the LGBTQ community. She further states that homicide rates over the past year have jumped from 43% to 54%, with most occurrences involving women of colour. Cox’s reasoning behind why transgender people of colour are more attacked is very convincing and proven to be true within to her evidence. Her statements concerning transgender cruelty being bound to occur more with trans women of colour are easily understandable. Several studies, including Cultural Studies and Diaspora Studies surround her thesis of why people of colour are heavily criticized, disagreed with and hurt, either mentally or physically have been examined. Although I cannot be sure as to what Laverne Cox did not say, as this is only an excerpt of a larger speech, I can only hope that she also touched on the stories behind similar occurrences of homicides within transgender people of other colours and races as well.
Touching back on Cox’s experience with catcalling, it angers me to listen to Cox’s reasoning as to why these men thought it was appropriate to single her out as something specific. It is difficult to wrap my head around why these men thought their actions were appropriate. I can only assume that the men were convinced to observe and survey Cox’s body and then further categorize her because of today’s outlook on, and construction of, masculinity. Cox states that systemic changes in society, such as gender inequality, and race inequality have caused a ripple effect and in doing so, have basically pushed transgender people of colour individuals to the bottom of the food chain. Clearly this is not acceptable or justified, but rather is seen, by myself, as a poor coping mechanism. Although this is just my inference based off of Cox’s speech, I think it has space for growth, as there are countless cases, such as Tiffany Edwards, a 28-year-old transgender woman of colour who had been shot to death in Walnut Hills, Ohio that support Cox’s thesis as well as my inference.
The ever-prominent struggle of acknowledging and accepting people’s differences is becoming harder and harder because of the impact that being “different” has on society. An example of this can be seen within the media, as it has a large impact on today’s society with it’s easy accessibility. I think it is inspiring and motivational that Cox can speak out about the power in being different to groups of people in the hopes of a better tomorrow. Her comments on love as a solution are deep and universal, but conditional because of how human beings value and understand race, gender and sexuality, just to name a few. If Cox can get her ideals across to more people and spread her message, perhaps things in society can change. The supplied segment of Laverne Cox’s speech is convincing and well thought through. By supplying stories, statistics and personal experiences, she easily captivates the viewer and gives an interesting insight into her life, which may be very similar yet different to other individuals. None the less, I believe her speech is easily relatable considering everyone is bound to undergo catcalling, bullying or racism, although these occurrences may not be to the same extent as mentioned in her speech, they have still happened, still hurt and still need to be discussed. I think this is important to think about the similarities in these situations when looking at Cox’s speech. I find it easier to understand as if one can notice that the same experiences are happening with people of their same race and realize that it is not okay, then they should also realize that it is as equally not okay for people of different races, genders or sexualities.