In a commencement ceremony speech, Laverne Cox discussed the recent bills banning abortion and how one group of people are being left out of the conversation: transgender men.
Cox spoke at Pitzer College in Claremont, California, on Saturday (18 May).
During her speech, she discussed a recent Twitter exchange and how she learned more about practicing inclusivity. She shared the lesson she learned with the graduates.
Following the mass bills on abortion introduced and passed in the US recently, Cox retweeted a tweet that read: ‘Woman’s body. Woman’s right to choose. End of story.’
Someone responded to Cox, pointing out the erasure of ‘trans brothers’ struggle in this fight’.
That’s when Cox became defensive — and learned a good lesson.
‘Can we have a moment for women?’
‘I said to myself: “Can we just have a moment where we keep this simple? There’s so much going on in the world right now and it is so complicated,”‘ she told the graduates.
‘”Can we have a moment for women? For women to be in solidarity with each other? Can I just be in solidarity with my sisters on this issue? Do we have to make it about all of the complicated nuances of the issue?”‘
She realized that response was not the most inclusive or respectful.
As she continued reflecting on the issue. she said she thought to herself: ‘”What if I were a transgender man?’ What if I were a transgender man… and for whatever reason I became pregnant unintentionally? If I were that trans man, I would really want to have language that incorporated and included my experience.”‘
Her speech highlighted how language is a ‘matter of life and death’ and can jeopardize marginalized communities’ well-being.
As her speech concluded, Cox directly addressed the graduates and what she wanted them to learn.
‘What this brought up for me is that as you go out into the world, you’re going to be faced with a lot of difficult decisions, a lot of things that will make you uncomfortable, that are complicated and nuanced issues. And sometimes you might just want to keep it simple,’ she said.
‘”Can we focus on this part of the issue right now and just leave this out ― leave this group of people out?” And what I would like to remind you of today is that when we are leaving people out, we are not really doing the work to be inclusive.’
Below is the Pitzer commencement ceremony. Cox begins speaking around the 54-minute mark.