Laverne Cox was the first transgender person nominated for an Emmy and first one to appear on the cover of Time.
Hollywood and the Internet were in a tizzy for most of Monday following the debut of Caitlyn Jenner on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine, but there's one voice among the millions that stands out.
Laverne Cox, the transgender star of Netflix's hit show Orange Is the New Black, posted a long essay on her Tumblr in response to Caitlyn's glamorous photoshoot, asking that fans focus on Jenner's spirit, and not her appearance.
"Yes, Caitlyn looks amazing and is beautiful but what I think is most beautiful about her is her heart and soul," Cox wrote, "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."
Caitlyn Jenner on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine. Photo: Annie Leibovitz/Vanity Fair
Cox adds that most transgender people don't have access to glam squads and famous photographers like she and Jenner do, meaning that the pressure to conform to defined standards of attractiveness is often a struggle within the transgender community.
"A year ago when my Time magazine cover came out I saw posts from many trans folks saying that I am "drop dead gorgeous" and that that doesn't represent most trans people. (It was news to be that I am drop dead gorgeous but I'll certainly take it). But what I think they meant is that in certain lighting, at certain angles I am able to embody certain cisnormative beauty standards. Now, there are many trans folks because of genetics and/or lack of material access who will never be able to embody these standards. More importantly many trans folks don't want to embody them and we shouldn't have to to be seen as ourselves and respected as ourselves."
However, Cox says she is hopeful that voices like hers and Jenner's can help broaden the discussion about transgender people and change how they are seen and treated in larger society.
"I have hoped over the past few years that the incredible love I have received from the public can translate to the lives of all trans folks. Trans folks of all races, gender expressions, ability, sexual orientations, classes, immigration status, employment status, transition status, genital status etc.. I hope, as I know Caitlyn does, that the love she is receiving can translate into changing hearts and minds about who all trans people are as well as shifting public policies to fully support the lives and well being of all of us. The struggle continues..."