Laverne Cox Provides Simple Tips For Understanding Trans People

laverne-cox-wendy-williamsCelebrated actress and transgender pioneer Laverne Cox sat down with Wendy Williams this week to have a legendary kiki that involved Wendy’s shoe cam, a wig note from Laverne, a Hebrew lesson, and more productive discussion about why questions about genitalia are invasive and rude.

In true Wendy fashion, the all-too-inevitable questions about transitioning and surgeries were asked pretty bluntly. “What is transgender?,” she said.

As if providing a one-stop answer to copy/paste onto anyone who still doesn’t understand, Cox delivers a simple and eloquent response:

Transgender very basically means that the gender you identify as is different than what you were assigned at birth — very simple. Transgender people’s experiences are really different. It’s an individual experience, there’s no one blanket transgender experience. It’s really about listening to individuals in terms of who they are and accepting people on their own terms.

Apparently Williams did not watch the Katie Couric interview during which she twice asked Cox and Janet Mock about their genitalia, because she compliments and draws attention to Cox’s breast implants. Couric was blasted for being “transphobic,” but good ole’ Wendy gets a good ole’ pass:

Off camera I can talk to you about it. I’ve chosen not to talk about any of the stuff I’ve gotten done because I think so often when trans people’s experiences are talked about, we far too often focus on surgery and transition, so I don’t talk about that. But I’m very happy with the situation.

Check out the rest of Cox’s awesome interview, including her thoughts about the raging success of Orange Is the New Black, below:

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  • gskorich

    transgender has nothing to do with genitalia, transexual does.

  • masc4masc

    “It’s an individual experience, there’s no one blanket transgender experience. It’s really about listening to individuals in terms of who they are and accepting people on their own terms.”

    delusion (de·lu·sion): an idiosyncratic belief or impression that is firmly maintained despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality or rational argument, typically a symptom of mental disorder.

  • barkomatic

    Is it even possible to have a frank conversation about transgender issues and people without offending someone these days? It seems that open dialogue is being aggressively discouraged and the public is simple being told “this is who we are, this is how you will refer to us (terms may change suddenly without notice), and if you ask any me any questions you are transphobic and I’ll refuse to answer”.

  • DonW

    @masc4masc: And how is that relevant? Until a generation ago even “masc4masc” gay men were considered mentally ill. All we have asked for, and are finally being allowed to do, is to define ourselves on our own terms.

    You post ceaseless, doth-protest-too-much comments — under myriad screen names including RICK on Towleroad (yes, you’re that transparent) — denigrating women, feminine gay men and transgender people, in a laughable attempt to prove what a “manly man” you are. You accomplish nothing but to scream “I am a pathetic, self-loathing closet case.”

  • DonW

    @DonW: By “we” I mean conventionally masculine gay men. I’m one too but, unlike you, I don’t believe in trying to shut out other marginalized groups now that we’ve gotten our place at the table.

    Then again, scratch the “too.” Despite your protestations, you don’t come across as much of a man.

  • MarionPaige

    I was on a temp job at a major investment bank in NYC with a guy who was dressed as a woman. I recognized enough about the person to know that I had seen the person on a different temp job dressed as a man. Since the person I saw was not Black (and I am), I just wondered … given that the unemployment rate for Black males in NYC was over 50%, how the fuck does a man in a dress get hired before a Black Male? Strangely enough, I can say the same thing about caribbeans with dreadlocks. Given that the unemployment rate for American Born Black Males in NYC is over 50%, how the fuck does some Carib clown in dreadlocks get hired over a Black Man?

  • tdx3fan

    @masc4masc: Huge difference. Transgender identity is NOT a delusion… anymore than being gay is.

    A delusion in medical terms is an unwanted or irrational belief that AFFECTS functioning. Being transgender does not affect functioning.

    Not to mention, there is a scientific biological tendency towards being transgender. That is NOT true with maintaining delusions.

  • tdx3fan

    I find Laverne Cox to be a very beautiful person (both physically and emotionally) and a VERY talented actress. I would love to be honored to be her boyfriend, but I think she’s out of my league.

  • tdx3fan

    @barkomatic: I don’t think that is coming from the mainstream transgender community at all. It is coming from a lunatic fringe of the community. They are just an extremely vocal minority. We all have extremely vocal minorities. The gay community has them too… in forms of both the highly religious and anti-religious members. Also in the terms of the Republican gays and the ultra super liberal gays. If you allowed any of those groups to represent the whole community you would have a very skewed presentation of the community as a whole.

  • ingyaom

    “assigned at birth”? What is that supposed to mean? I was born with a penis; that makes me male. It’s not something that was assigned to me. The only sense I can make of this remark would be in the case of hermaphroditism – which could go either way.

  • masc4masc

    @DonW: the logic for ur comparison is off base, buddy. now this may get confusing, but try to follow: if i was a guy that openly dated/had sex with men while wanting society to acknowledge me as hetero…but whiiiiiiile accusing people of homophobia if they don’t comply with my delusion (lol)…that would be about the same as the transgender mentality.

    also, the whole self-loathing/closet case accusation lost it’s punch lonnnnnng ago since it’s what silly fags like you call anyone that disagrees with you or that you disagree with. either that or accusing them of being another account you don’t like. lol both are getting pretty old and useless.

  • masc4masc

    @tdx3fan: wrong! it’s physically possible for a man to have sex with men. it is not physically possible for a man to be a woman, as there is no way to give a man a fully functional female reproductive system. it’s simply a reconstructed penis (and yet another way the plastic surgery industry has found to capitalize off people’s insecurities). so let’s put those gay/trans comparisons to bed. even mr. cox says it’s basically undefined and up to whatever the individual’s imagination can dream. awww, just like a creative writing class!

    • gskorich

      @masc4masc: we have come to the day where a woman can say she is a man because she removes her breasts and takes testosterone but leaves her female genitalia. i get that, i get that chaz bono now thinks of himself as a hetero man but these people will never be male or female. they can be a man or a woman but not male or female. biology dictates that.

  • corvaspikenard

    @ingyaom: “assigned at birth”? What is that supposed to mean? I was born with a penis; that makes me male.”

    Please note that the quote was “gender assigned at birth”. Not “Sex”.
    She is referencing the fact that if you are born with a penis or a vulva you will be forced to conform to a narrow set of gender roles during your upbringing. Those roles are assigned on the basis of a genital inspection as birth.
    So you’ve misinterpreted the statement. Sex and gender aren’t the same thing.

  • corvaspikenard

    @masc4masc: “if i was a guy that openly dated/had sex with men while wanting society to acknowledge me as hetero…but whiiiiiiile accusing people of homophobia if they don’t comply with my delusion (lol)…that would be about the same as the transgender mentality.”

    I don’t think this a good analogy at all. It makes very little sense to me, as sexual orientation and gender identity are very different things, other than being something you are born with.
    Let me re-write your example:

    It’s as if I was a guy who was raised to be gay and made to have gay sex, but knew all along I was straight and acted ‘straight’ (whatever that means) and asked people to refer me as straight. Also, I would rightfully accuse people of being assholes if they continued to call me gay, even after I had made my attraction to women clear and that the ‘gayness’ was forced upon me and I never identified as gay, even though my parents told everyone I was.

    That’s more like what being transgender is like.

  • corvaspikenard

    @masc4masc: it is not physically possible for a man to be a woman, as there is no way to give a man a fully functional female reproductive system.

    Actually, nine uterus transplants were performed in Sweden in 2012. Four have had IVF embryos implanted.
    These women either lost their uterus to disease or were born without them.
    The procedure is equally viable for trans women.

    Please don’t call Laverne “Mr. Cox”, that’s willfully being a jerk, because you know she wishes to be referred to as female and is also female on all her legal documentation.
    Even if you don’t agree with the concept of people being transgender, at least have decency to refer to them as they would prefer. It’s not a difficult thing to do at all :-)

  • corvaspikenard

    @barkomatic: Is it even possible to have a frank conversation about transgender issues and people without offending someone these days?

    Personally I think it’s more a case of being asked the same questions over and over; it gets boring and it gets annoying. I know that after two years of transition I was sick to death or questions like “when are you getting your dick cut off?” and “are your breasts real?”

    It’s especially frustrating when you’re in a professional setting and trying to do your job. If I’m training someone how to do a particular thing at work, them asking questions about my sex organs is pretty out there and I should be rightfully offended, since anyone else would probably consider that sexual harassment.

    But please try it out for yourself – go and ask each of your colleagues and co-workers about their genital shape/structure and see how they react :-)

  • masc4masc

    @gskorich: they have to leave their lady parts in tact in case they wanna get pregnant one day, you know, like every man dreams. lol

    • gskorich

      @masc4masc: thats what i mean, we all can’t live in these transsexuals minds. so you think you are a woman because you have breasts? really, the dick doesn’t mean anything?

  • corvaspikenard

    @gskorich: No, I think I’m a woman because my brain is developmentally female. There is plenty of science to back up the idea that trans people have the brain morphology of their professed sex.
    Also, I don’t have a dick :-)

  • barkomatic

    @corvaspikenard: I can certainly understand that–it’s completely inappropriate and rude to ask such questions in a work setting and most settings actually. I was referring to some individuals who choose to represent the transgender community in the media–not those just trying to live their lives.

    The general public and the gay community should be more sensitive to transgender issues, it’s just been hurtful when certain leaders who have supported LGBTQ rights for years get shouted down and unfairly criticized in my opinion.

  • corvaspikenard

    @barkomatic: That depends whether or not the person is there to represent the trans community or is promoting their work on a TV show or whatever. I imagine that if Laverne is invited onto a talk show to discuss her work on Orange is the New Black, then questions about her genitals probably aren’t appropriate or relevant.
    Unless the interviewer also ask her co-stars about their genitalia (which I doubt).

    I’m guessing your last paragraph refers to the RuPaul situation?
    If so, then if the price of RuPaul’s ongoing support of the trans community is not making a fuss about him using the ‘T’ word; then that’s a price I’m willing to pay :-)
    If it means his full support in trans issues, he can shout that word from the rooftops for all I care.

  • masc4masc

    @corvaspikenard: ummm did you even read this article??? it says these were all performed on women only and makes no mention of trans-anything. these women were just infertile, not t r a n n i e s. it even says they “had intact fallopian tubes and ovaries”. they also haven’t even done the procedure to see if they can get pregnant or not. does mr. cox have fallopian tubes, ovaries, a cervix? hmmmm???

    “Sex reassignment surgery for male-to-female trans women involves reshaping the male genitals into a form with the appearance of and, as far as possible, the function of female genitalia.”

    key words and terms: reshaping, male genitals, as far as possible…..

  • corvaspikenard

    @masc4masc: “ummm did you even read this article???”

    I have read that article as well as several other articles on the same topic (as I would like to have children via pregnancy). Doctors in the UK are also about to start a similar procedure, but using dead donors rather than live ones.
    The ovaries and fallopian tubes are not required, as these women had IVF embryos implanted. As that article explains, the uterus was not hooked up to the ovaries/tubes, so spontaneous pregnancy will not happen with these women.

    There is nothing to suggest that the procedure wouldn’t be viable for trans women. There are no morphological differences that would prevent the implantation of a uterus in a trans women. Birth would probably happen via c-section, though the stem-cell vaginas recently grown and implanted in four women would make vaginal birth more viable (the hip width of the trans woman would also be a factor).

    I’m not sure why you’re arguing about reproduction, seeing as how your a gay man and same-sex intercourse doesn’t involve reproduction. It seems very, very strange for this to be a talking point for you.

    Lastly, medical science is changing and expanding constantly. I don’t doubt that in the very near future trans men and women will be able to reproduce as their preferred sex.
    Until then I consider myself just an infertile woman :-)

    Oh, and could you please stop referring to Laverne as ‘Mr. Cox’? It’s very disrespectful. I’d really appreciate it if you wouldn’t call her that.

  • masc4masc

    @corvaspikenard: i’m not arguing about reproduction. you sent me that link in reference to what i said. if you think a study for a procedure that was only done on women with other functioning female anatomy somehow proves trans are no different from infertile women, then that’s exactly what i meant by delusion. much luck to you and the corpse you plan to procreate with.

  • corvaspikenard

    @masc4masc: “i’m not arguing about reproduction.”

    That’s a very intellectually dishonest statement. The original comment from you was: ” it is not physically possible for a man to be a woman, as there is no way to give a man a fully functional female reproductive system.”

    You were the one who raised reproduction and defined it as the crux of womanhood, so I pointed out that trans women will very shortly be able to reproduce via pregnancy, as uterus transplants are now viable.
    I’ve also explained why they will be viable for trans women, as they only require the uterus, synthetic hormones and an implanted embryo. All the science is there; it will happen.
    If recognising medical progress is ‘delusional’, then I’m certainly extremely delusional :-)

    “much luck to you and the corpse you plan to procreate with.”

    Thank you! However I’ve had dozens of offers from female friends and family members who want to donate their uterus to me, so I don’t intend to use the uterus from a deceased person :-)
    Your well-wishes are appreciated though.

  • Jacob23

    I am gay. I am also happy to be called LGB. But I am not LGBT. Laverne Cox and her tips have nothing to do with me. It is an insult to LGBs to suggest that, by virtue of being gay, they have a common identity with transsexuals. I am happy to be allies with Ts, but the construct of “LGBT people” is a pretty transparent fraud.

  • corvaspikenard

    Firstly, thank you for being an ally to trans people :-)

    “It is an insult to LGBs…”

    I’m curious though as to why you find it insulting to be grouped as LGBT? I’m a straight trans woman, but I’m certainly not insulted by being grouped with the LGB, as I don’t see anything wrong with any sexual orientation.
    Why is it an insult to you?

  • Bee Gaga

    @Jacob23: No, it’s being gender/sexual minorities. Each one of those groups L, G, B and T have a commonality in their minority and often contested existence in the heteronormative society-at-large, which has everything to do with gender roles and social norms. Whether you like it or not the T is connect to the L, G and the B.

  • jcortez

    @MarionPaige: Interestingly enough there was an article on The Root today making the case that gay black men may have an advantage in the workplace over straight ones. Who knows?

  • Cam

    I’m just not sure why it matters.

    If Laverne Cox is happy in her life doing what she is doing then why should I be upset or demand answers?

    If I work with somebody who does a great job and they were born a boy and now want to be called a different name, dress a different way, get a surgery or not, if they are a good co-worker or a good friend or just basically not a jerk, then why should I care?

    Laverne Cox identifying as a woman shouldn’t be seen as an attack on your life.

Comments are closed.