Leave it to the kids to get things right. While many so-called grownups are still stumbling over pronouns, frustratingly equating gender identity and race, and wondering aloud about the sensational nature of Caitlyn Jenner's transition, the story of one 7-year-old trans girl's meeting with Laverne Cox has the power to shut us up for one second and see why it's important to have trans celebrities.
Marlo Mack originally wrote about her daughter "M." and Cox on her blog, Gendermom, and it was reprinted by Seattle's KUOW last week, where it grabbed our attention. Mack (a pseudonym for her daughter's privacy) told of why she and another mother of a trans girl took their daughters to see Cox speak in their hometown. They were the only children in the audience, and obviously too young to be fans of Orange Is the New Black, but Mack writes that this is what she hoped they learned from the speech: "Here is someone who is talented and smart and famous and beloved by the multitudes – and she's also like you."
"M." has been living as a girl since around age 3, according to this breathtaking video Mack made to tell their story. In a post last year, Mack wrote about how she used Cox's Time cover to teach her daughter what the word "transgender" means, and about the whole broad concept of discrimination.
But based on what happened after Cox's speech, it's M. who's teaching everyone else. She and her mother were able to join a handful of audience members for a reception with Cox. M. decided to meet the actress at the door, and stood right in her path when she entered the room. "I'm M.," she announced. "And I'm trans." While both Cox and Mack seemed surprised by the girl's boldness, M. went right in for a hug. "Laverne crouched down to meet M.'s hug at eye level, and as I frantically snapped photos for posterity, I heard her say to my daughter, 'Remember, honey, transgender is beautiful.' "
In an ideal world, children don't need celebrities to tell them that what they are is beautiful. But as it is right now, we're happy Cox and Caitlyn Jenner are bringing the stories of girls like M. into focus for the rest of us.
You can learn more about M. and Mack on their podcast, How to Be a Girl.