Laverne Cox is a well-known, successful actress who shared an experience of street harassment in a recent speech on the intersection of Transphobia, Racism, and Misogyny. She explains one of her negative experiences and the effects street harassment has had on her and other transgendered women and women of colour. She expresses that she believes love is the answer to these types of violence, while also asking the question of ‘What problems do people have with themselves that they feel the need to call out others for something?’. She refers to Cornell West, quoting “justice is what love looks like in public”. Cox believes that if we, as the public and society, can all learn to love trans people, then that will be revolutionary.
Laverne Cox’s lived experience is New York City proves that intersecting oppressions are prominent in everyday life. Many trans women go through experiences like hers of street harassment and live the reality of racism, misogyny and/or transphobia.
Because of the expectations set by society for people to identify within the gender binary, this creates oppression against people who do not. Trans people are an example of this because their gender expression does not with the gender binary of either male or female. Gender expression continues to affect these people every day, including on the streets, in jobs, in relationships, etc. They live in constant danger for a simple reason of being themselves. There are people who, because they have a problem with themselves, feel inclined to point that out on other people. This is often shown in ways such as street harassment, sexual assault, and even death by abuse. From Laverne Cox’s point of view, since violence seems to be the answer for eradicating and oppressing transgendered people, it does nothing but harm their lives.
The effects of racism that women of colour face every day cannot be compared to the effects that trans women also face, although can be analyzed intersectionally. Black trans women feel the intersectional oppression of misogyny, for being a woman, racism, for being a black person, and transphobia for expressing themselves as trans. None of these are a choice that these people make, and need to be accepted into society as a norm instead of acts of deviance.
Quoting from the guest lecturer from week that “dehumanization leads to violence” (2015), which is shown in Laverne Cox’s experience of street harassment. By calling out people for being different is dehumanizing and treating them as ‘others’. If someone or a group of people happen to disagree with someone else’s expression of self and see it as unacceptable in our society, they may feel that the ‘othered’ person is in the wrong and engage in violence towards the person. This type of situation leads to ‘othering’ of people, causing an ‘us vs. them’ perspective.
In conclusion, Laverne Cox’s reflection on the oppressed lives of transgendered women opens up thoughts for listeners and readers of her speeches to reflect themselves on ways they have been oppressed or oppress a group. She recognizes that a systemic change needs to occur in order for a significant change to happen. Within popular media, public action, and social justice, transgendered people can become accepted through a conscious change. Love is the answer.
In my personal opinion, I agree with Cox’s point of view in saying that love will be the answer because if we, as a society, can learn to love one another instead of judge others for their differences, then this world and society can be equal and just. The reality of women, including trans and women of colour, is that their lives are disadvantaged as soon as they are born, so working together as a structural community, we can eradicate and eliminate the hatred and concern around differences.
Tolmie, Jane. “Week 9 Lecture 1.” Kingston ON. March 9. 2015.
Cox, Laverne. “Laverne Cox Explains the Intersection of Transphobia, Racism, and Misogyny (And What To Do About It).” Everyday Feminism December 7 2014. Print.