The Lovely Laverne Cox

Posted on 15. Dec, 2014 by in Campus Events

College is a time of change. A time of transition. We leave high school, the rigid structure of an 8 hour school day, the babysitting of our nagging teachers, the supervision of our parents, and we enter a world of freedom. Our old lives feel so far away, and often they literally are. We have to make the effort to call our parents if we want to keep in touch, our teachers might not know or remember our names, and homework almost doesn’t exist (until we pull all-nighters to study). We’re being introduced to topics we never knew we could study like the rise of youth culture through rock and roll music and art or the media’s portrayal of sexuality in film. We’re understanding how the world really works and seeing the possibilities it has to offer us. It’s exciting, the new knowledge of our world and ourselves, but scary – what if this world doesn’t accept who we truly are?

On December 1st, Butler University proudly welcomed Laverne Cox, an Emmy nominated actress most popular for her role as a transgender woman in the Netflix series Orange is the New Black, to speak to students about her journey of transition. Like we college students, Laverne was on a mission to find herself. Before Laverne enchanted the Schrott Center, the campus buzzed in anticipation for her arrival. The Butler Pulse Office hosted a twitter contest for students to win a free ticket to the event. Their door was covered from top to bottom with posters of Laverne. Students showed their excitement by tweeting pictures of themselves outside the door with the hashtag #LaverneReady.

Over 400 students crowded into the Schrott Center to listen to Laverne tell her story. Laverne easily hushed the exuberant chatter with her proud, booming voice. Defiant and unafraid, Laverne brought transgender issues to the forefront of her speech. While her mother, her teachers, and her peers called her a boy, in her heart Laverne identified as a girl, knowing one day she would become a woman. She conquered the bullying of those who disagreed with her gender expression, she overcame her race which reminded her daily of the history of her oppression, and she surmounted her class and worked her way to the top.

Laverne’s journey is one of hope. Every day as she walks down the street, she faces people who call her names and disrespect her humanity. But she doesn’t let society define her. She continues to be herself (ain’t she a woman?!) and promote the equality of all people, regardless of identity. And Laverne is going places. She is the first transgender person to be on the cover of Time Magazine.

Laverne iterated the importance of acceptance. We need to stop policing those around us whose identities we may not understand. Cox encouraged us to celebrate our identities and speak of them with pride. Senior Sara Doverspike said, “Laverne reminded us that it’s our job to create a safe space to discuss our identities and educate others.”

We are learning who we are every day and Laverne promised us that who we are is beautiful.

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