Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair cover was revealed just about a year after Laverne Cox’s landmark Time cover debut — more precisely, a year and three days after, Cox notes in a moving essay she published this morning on her personal website. In the piece, Cox praises Jenner for her courage, her heart and soul, for revealing her vulnerabilities, and, of course, for her beauty. (“Yasss Gawd! Werk Caitlyn! Get it!”)
But Cox also uses the moment to eloquently discuss how her and Caitlyn’s ability to embody cisnormative beauty standards doesn’t represent the entire trans community. And while bravely addressing her own unique privilege, she reminds us of the need for diverse representation of the trans experience, and continued awareness of issues facing those who aren’t on the covers of magazines. She writes:
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 me that I am drop dead gorgeous but I’ll certainly take it.) 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. It is important to note that these standards are also informed by race, class and ability among other intersections. I have always been aware that I can never represent all trans people. No one or two or three trans people can. This is why we need diverse media representations of trans folks to multiply trans narratives in the media and depict our beautiful diversities. I started #TransIsBeautiful as a way to celebrate all those things that make trans folks uniquely trans, those things that don’t necessarily align with cisnormative beauty standards.
Read the entire essay here.