On Monday, Caitlyn Jenner introduced herself to the world on the cover of Vanity Fair. She thanked several people who inspired her to embrace her true identity. Among them, Laverne Cox. Cox recently responded on her personal tumblr. "I am so moved by all the love and support Caitlyn is receiving," Cox wrote. "It feels like a new day, indeed, when a trans person can present her authentic self to the world for the first time and be celebrated for it so universally." But, the language of this praise has caused Cox to "reflect critically on my own desires to 'work a photo shoot' to serve up various forms of glamour, power, sexiness, body affirming, racially empowering images of my black, trans womanhood." She's referring to exclamations of "Yasss Gawd!" and "slaying for the Gods." Cox writes that, while she enjoys creating beautiful images for her fans, "I also hope that it is my talent, my intelligence, my heart and spirit that most captivate, inspire, move and encourage folks to think more critically about the world around them." That's not to say Jenner doesn't look incredible. "Caitlyn looks amazing and is beautiful but what I think is most beautiful about her is her heart and soul, the ways she has allowed the world into her vulnerabilities. The love and devotion she has for her family and that they have for her. Her courage to move past denial into her truth so publicly. These things are beyond beautiful to me." Cox astutely notes that when her Time cover came out in 2014, many trans people said she looked “drop dead gorgeous," but that her image doesn't represent most trans people at all. "I think [what] they meant is that in certain lighting, at certain angles I am able to embody certain cisnormative beauty standards." Not only do genetics or lack of resources prevent so many trans people from obtaining cisnormative beauty norms, not all of them want to. "We shouldn’t have to to be seen as ourselves and respected as ourselves," Cox wrote. "It is important to note that these standards are also informed by race, class and ability among other intersections." It seems that her #TransIsBeautiful hashtag has taken on an unintended persona. "I started #TransIsBeautiful as a way to celebrate all those things that make trans folks uniquely trans, those things that don’t necessarily align with cisnormative beauty standards." Though often used as the poster child for trans people, Cox knows she doesn't represent everyone — "No one or two or three trans people can." She argues that we need more diverse representations of trans people in the media as well as many versions of the 'trans narrative.'" Now, it's time to do more. Cox's post turns to a call to action to help those who, unlike she and Jenner, don't have the privileges to safely live their true lives. "The struggle continues," she wrote. You can read Cox's full post on her tumblr.
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