“Justice is what love looks like in public”; this powerful yet insightful quote by Cornell West is one which has inspired my opinions and thoughts in regards to an accepting society. What a simple yet captivating thought; that equality and justice of all races and gender reflects love. Laverne Cox provides a unique and powerful insight on the collision of Transphobia, Racism, and Misogyny. Laverne also suggests a simple solution to these issues by incorporating the idea from the quote by Cornell West. The street harassment which many transgender women experience, the possible relation of harassment and race, and the bullying of LGBT youth are all topics which Laverne highlights in her talk.
The street harassment which many transgender women experience is something that I myself was particularly unaware of. This is an issue which society should become educated on, so that the well-being and safety of many transgender women may be protected. In Laverne’s talk, she gives three examples of street harassment, one including an experience of her own. In all of the examples, the harassment began as sexual and suggestive comments from men, all of which in generally public areas. However, once the men noticed that the women were transgender women, the situation changed completely. In the two cases that did not involve Laverne herself, sexual and suggestive comments transitioned into extreme violence towards the women. Violence so severe, that the women lost their lives. These women are put in danger simply for being who they are, and not conforming to what society deems as ‘normal’. Laverne states in her talk “Our lives are often in danger, simply for being who we are”. No woman should ever feel in physical or emotional danger in any situation.
Laverne offers her insight on a possible and interesting connection between race and the harassment of transgender women. She suggests that a possible yet subconscious reason that some black men have for their beliefs dates back to the trauma of black slavery in the United States. During the period in the United States when slavery was at an all time high, black male bodies were often lynched, meaning that their genitals were cut off. What Cox suggests is that some black men view a black trans woman’s body as a historical emasculation of the black male body and an embodiment of the period where slavery was at a high. This is a very interesting and thought provoking suggestion. It ties the traumatic history of the African-American race in the United States with today’s modern society discrimination issues. In some ways, this idea is rather ironic. Two of the major causes for slavery were issues of inequality and discrimination. If a person were to try and embrace equality and truly want to put the ways of discrimination of race and gender in the past, they would fully accept a transgender woman.
Another topic which Cox addresses in her talk is the bullying of LGBT youth in todays society. Cox suggests that one of the reasons why LGBT youth are bullied and discriminated against is because of their gender expression, and not conforming to the sex which they were at birth. Gay slurs are being integrated into the vocabularies of children and youth, influencing their ideas and opinions from a young age. According to recent gay bullying statistics, about 9 out of 10 LGBT youth have reported to be bullied at school, just because of their sexual orientation(1). Out of that statistic, close to half have reported to be physically harassed, while a quarter have reported to be physically assaulted(1). Youth around the high school age are at a point in their lives where they are trying to find themselves, and who they want to become as adults. Being ridiculed and bullied for the way that they wish to live their lives is something that has the ability to affect the way that they view themselves, and the way they choose to live their life. Youth should have the confidence and the support of the people around them to live their life in the way that they wish, without feeling the pressure of society to be a certain way. Every person has a right to decide how they live their life, and no person should be restricted by society.
If society accepted and embraced everyone’s differences, the world would be different than it is today. There are people who embrace differences, and there are people who do not. In reality, the world will never be perfect; there will never be a time where every single person in the world will be open to peoples differences and welcome them with open arms. What we can do as a society is work together to move towards a greater good, a society where no one feels in danger, and everyone feels free to live their life in the way that they choose. In order for this to happen, we all must love ourselves first. If you don’t love yourself, it’s hard for others to love and accept you in return. You must love yourself and embrace who you are so that others may do the same. If we do this, together as a society, we will achieve justice.
“Gay Bullying Statistics.” Bullying Statistics. N.p., 2013. Web. 01 Mar. 2015. <http://www.bullyingstatistics.org/content/gay-bullying-statistics.html>.
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