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It's about TIME

— By 05 June 2014
1754 VIEWS

If you’ve been following the news in the queer world lately, you’ve probably heard of Laverne Cox. If not, here’s a little introduction:

Laverne Cox is a kickass African American trans woman who rose to fame with her TV career. Most notably, she currently plays Sophia Burset in Orange Is The New Black. After getting a lot of feedback about how great it is to have a visible, openly trans character on screen, Laverne Cox jumped headfirst into activism and is doing a pretty wonderful job at it.

There’s also been a handful of controversies around Laverne’s very loud, very visible presence in the media. A couple of months ago, we ran a piece about Laverne Cox being left out from Time 100’s list of Most Influential People. We were one of hundreds, if not thousands of voices contributing to the backlash, which you can still see with a quick google of #WhereIsLaverneCox.

 

So, last month, Time apologised!

Okay, well, not exactly. Time ran a feature story about Laverne Cox and trans activism- and her face is on the magazine’s cover. The story isn’t available online but some extra additions to it are if you want to check it out.

It’s pretty amazing. A huge and fundamental part of queer activism as we know it today began with trans women of colour like Laverne. Unfortunately queer activism has shifted to focus on some groups more than others over time, and often leaves trans people behind. So seeing someone like Laverne Cox in the limelight is a massive step forward.

Not only does this reflect massive progress in society at large, but this is huge for trans youth. Having successful, happy, and visible role models in the media is a big deal. For many, not seeing a single public figure or celebrity they relate to can take a toll, coming hand in hand with low self-esteem and a sense of isolation. This applies doubly so for trans youth of colour.

It’s also great for people around gender diverse young people and get a better sense of what a trans person ‘is’. A lot of family, friends, and partners have sometimes never encountered the idea ‘of what it means to be a trans person’, and as a result makes coming out all the more difficult. Having people like Laverne helps change that.


But…

While the cover is incredible of course, it’s not perfect. The tagline on the front cover reads “America’s next civil rights frontier”, but that’s not quite true. Trans women, and particularly trans women of colour, have been fighting for decades. What we’ve seen in recent months is an incredible resurgence and new life to the movement, with a big push into the mainstream.

It’s definitely a powerful tagline as well, but it’s a bit misleading. Racism isn’t over, or Homophobia, or Misogyny. We are fighting for all these things and more, all the time. It’s important to understand this is the latest development, and a fantastic one at that, in a larger and ongoing movement.

And Time still hasn’t said anything about their mistake, not really. But Laverne Cox deserves this, it's a big win. She’s putting herself at risk every day she openly and publicly fights for her rights. We’ve seen the kind of backlash it can get just this week with the appalling piece “Larverne Cox Is Not A Woman” over at the National Review and republished in the Chicago Sun-Times (if you don't want to see straight up transphobia and hate, do not read). She’s fighting, though. And it’s working.

 

And this is just some of the proof.