Laverne Cox appeared on MSNBC's Hardball last night, and she was not having it with Travis Weber, director of the Center for Religious Liberty at the Family Research Council. Weber is an anti-trans activist, and Cox shut. him. down.
Cox spoke to host Chris Matthews about Gavin Grimm, a transgender male teenager from Virginia who has fought to use the bathroom of the gender he identifies with while at school. Grimm's case will be tackled by the Supreme Court, the first time the highest court in the land will rule on transgender rights. The Gloucester County School Board appealed to the court after the Obama administration directed schools to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms of their choice.
Cox noted that a lower court ruled Grimm's request was covered under Title IX, a part of 1972's Education Amendments Act, which prohibits gender discrimination. "If we look at the law...I believe it does protect trans people, and I hope the Supreme Court rules in favor of that," she told Matthews.
"I think it's important, again, to elevate the lived experiences of trans people," Cox told Matthews. "The reality is that trans people have been using the bathroom for many years without incident."
Matthews asked Weber who would be "harmed" if transgender students were allowed to use the restrooms of their choice. "I think we all understand what the harm is...when you have a 14-year-old girl in the locker room, someone comes in with male genitalia to their locker room, of course they're gonna be harmed. Their rights are not being protected here, and all I'm asking for is a reasonable discussion considering their rights. Let these localities decide the issue. That's what we can currently do right now. President Obama was the one that was gonna mandate this on everyone. Now, localities can decide the issue, and it's not as clear-cut under Title IX. Title IX is for sex discrimination..."
Understandably, Cox didn't love Weber's response. "I think it's important, when we have conversations with and about transgender people, that we do not reduce us to body parts," she told Matthews. "We are more than the sum of our parts, and it's so deeply objectifying and dehumanizing to talk about trans people and reduce us to body parts. That is really disturbing. And we need to look at the evidence. We need to look at all the hundreds of localities all over the country that have public accommodations protections, and that's really what we're talking about for trans people. And everything that he's claiming happens actually doesn't happen. Instead, trans people feel as if they have a right to exist in society. My transition was about me existing in public space and thriving in society. And because I was able to do that, I've been able to thrive. That's all we want."
Mic. Drop. Cox just reminded us what's so often missing from political discussions like these: humanity. And when we're discussing issues like transgender rights, it's vital to have voices like Cox's, and those of other transgender people, involved in the discussion. Hopefully, Cox's statements gave Weber something to think about.