Sarah Rohde: Start a conversation today, Transgender Day of Visibility | TheUnion.com
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Sarah Rohde: Start a conversation today, Transgender Day of Visibility

Other Voices
Sarah Rohde

Laverne Cox, a male to female (MTF) transgender actress, has broken the barrier! She is an amazing talent taking the world by storm; she will not be ignored.

Bold and beautiful, she entrances viewers with the characters she portrays and their stories. Best known for her role as Sophia Burset on Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black,” Cox bravely parallels her real tale of a transgender person struggling to be accepted as “herself.” Imprisoned in a women’s jail, Cox’s character refuses to be belittled and bullied as less than a woman, even when physically attacked. Eventually accepted by her fellow inmates, new arrivals quickly discover Sophia and her incarcerated community will not tolerate trans-phobia.

Cox became the first openly transgender person nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award in an acting category. In 2017, Cox was the first transgender person to portray a series regular transgender character during network prime time on CBS’s “Doubt.”

Cox is an avid advocate for the transgender community. She was the first openly transgender person on the cover of Time magazine in 2014, which helped start a national conversation. The 2014 GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) winner, Cox is recognized for her cultural impact to the mainstream.

Why should you care? Because everyone deserves to be accepted for who they are — no matter what body they were born into.

A January 2014 appearance on Katie Couric’s “The Katie Show” presented Cox an opportunity to share powerful information about the transgender community with the audience when Katie asked an insensitive question. Eloquently posting on her blog later, “I am so deeply moved by the dialogues that are happening around my appearance with Carmen Carrera on ‘The Katie Show’ on Monday,” she wrote. “It is my dream that by highlighting the deep humanity of trans people’s lives in the media, elevating actual trans voices to speak the truth of our lived experiences in ways that don’t sensationalize and objectify us, those human voices and stories can be a part of the disruption needed to end the disproportionate injustices that threaten so many trans people’s lives, particularly the lives of trans women of color.

“It is a state of emergency for far too many trans people across this country. The stories of women like Islan Nettles and CeCe McDonald are far too commonplace in our community. I look forward to engaging in more dialogues about the complicated intersectional issues around these injustices and ways to make them a thing of the past. I am so grateful to Katie Couric and her show for the opportunity to highlight these important issues.”

So what? Why should you care? Because everyone deserves to be accepted for who they are — no matter what body they were born into. Everyone needs support to develop into the best person they can possibly become. Trans kids face nearly unimaginable challenges: severe bullying, suicide attempts, even rejection by their families. Trans kids desperately need role models so they can envision a happy, fulfilling future. Laverne Cox is enormously successful professionally and in her personal role as an ambassador for the transgender community.

I challenge you to start a conversation today, on Transgender Day of Visibility, with your friends: you can empower someone in your community by embracing the idea that transgender people are people.

No matter what stage of the transition they are in. They have struggled or are struggling for their identity.

And guess what? Trans people are very brave! I’m exceptionally proud of my trans friends. Can anyone introduce me to Laverne Cox? I’d love to meet her!

Sarah Rohde is a member of PFLAG Nevada County and an ally who supports equality and inclusivity for all.


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