Laverne Cox has delivered a powerful, heartfelt and defiant message in the wake of anti-trans legislative attacks in the US.
Earlier this week, Alabama, Montana and Tennessee advanced bills that would endanger the rights of trans people living in these southern US states. These bills would limit trans youth from participating in school sports, hamper access to birth certificate changes, require teachers to out trans students to their parents and criminalise healthcare professionals for providing gender-affirming services to trans youth.
Cox spoke out against this wave of anti-trans legislation, especially the passage of anti-trans bills in her home state of Alabama, on Instagram live. The Emmy-nominated actor started the video by stating she wanted to “take a moment to come on and talk to you unfiltered”.
She shared how SB10, dubbed the Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act, passed through the Alabama Senate on Tuesday (2 March). The bill would make it illegal for medical professionals to administer hormones or puberty blockers to trans youth, in addition to prohibiting gender-affirming surgeries for trans minors. It would also impose a potential 10-year prison sentence or a $15,000 fine for any healthcare professionals who did give gender-affirming treatment to trans minors in Alabama.
“This is happening today in 2021,” Cox said.
She said she hadn’t had the “bandwidth” to talk about these issues before now because “it’s a lot”.
Cox explained that new bills are targeting trans people “every year”, and there has been a lot of propaganda directed towards trans people both online and in person.
She admitted she’s avoided talking about this topic because she finds all of it “fundamentally dehumanising”.
“All of the ways in which conversations are happening around trans people and sports — specifically trans women in sports — are dehumanising and objectifying,” she said.
Cox shared that “everything that I have fought for and worked for in my public life” is to “humanise” and “celebrate the beautiful humanity” of trans people. She added she is “sick” of having conversations about the “validity” of trans people.
“We exist,” Cox declared. “We are here, and the work is to understand that we are here and that we have been treated as second-class citizens for a very long time.”
She reminded trans people watching that “you are beautiful”, “trans is beautiful” and that “no matter what attacks are happening out there against you and your humanity that you have a right to be here”.
“What I want you to know is that you are not defined by what other people say about you,” Cox said. “You are what you know yourself to be.
“It can feel very daunting when there are all of these attacks against the humanity of trans people that are happening rhetorically and that are happening legislatively, but we must not be discouraged.”