Actor and LGBTQ activist Laverne Cox spoke on the importance of inclusivity at Pitzer College. Cox also spoke on the need to include transgender men when speaking on the discourse of abortion. This realisation was prompted when she shared a tweet that read: “Woman’s body. Woman’s right to choose. End of story.” But someone pointed out, “Laverne, how are you going to erase your trans brothers?”
Thank you for this. This discussion has brought up much for me that I am processing. https://t.co/1rxbllLS5f
— Laverne Cox (@Lavernecox) May 15, 2019
Although initially displeased, she soon recognised reason. “And then if I have to terminate that pregnancy, and I go to a healthcare facility and presenting as someone who appears to be male, who identifies as male and the healthcare practitioners have no understanding, no idea of how to handle this situation—if I were that trans man I would really want to have language that incorporated and included my experience,” she said.
Speaking on the importance of language, she further added, “when we use language that excludes groups of people on pertinent issues, it can jeopardise their health and well-being. Language that is appropriate and fully inclusive is a matter of life and death for so many people out there.” In a way, her speech came full circle as she had also begun with addressing the significance of language by quoting author and social activist Bell Hooks.
“‘Language is a place of struggle. The oppressed struggle in language to recover ourselves, to reconcile, to reunite, to renew.’”