The responses to Caitlyn Jenner’s glamorous Vanity Fair cover have been swift and varied. Her new Twitter page racked up a record-breaking 1 million followers in four hours; countless celebrities have praised her; and some transphobic ignoramuses have blatantly denied her transition. Everybody, it seems, has an opinion on what some are referring to as the “transgender tipping point”.
That phrase also appeared on Laverne Cox’s TIME cover last year, and the black actress/producer/advocate took to her personal Tumblr to address both the importance of the occasion and the ongoing lack of diversity in cultural representations of the trans community, as well as the need to have policy that empowers all trans people. Here are a few choice quotes from Cox’s post:
I am so moved by all the love and support Caitlyn is receiving. It feels like a new day, indeed, when a trans person can present her authentic self to the world for the first time and be celebrated for it so universally. Many have commented on how gorgeous Caitlyn looks in her photos, how she is ‘slaying for the Gods.’ I must echo these comments in the vernacular, ‘Yasss Gawd! Werk Caitlyn! Get it!’ But this has made me reflect critically on my own desires to ‘work a photo shoot’, to serve up various forms of glamor, power, sexiness, body affirming, racially empowering images of the various sides of my black, trans womanhood. I love working a photo shoot and creating inspiring images for my fans, for the world and above all for myself. But I also hope that it is my talent, my intelligence, my heart and spirit that most captivate, inspire, move and encourage folks to think more critically about the world around them.
Now, there are many trans folks because of genetics and/or lack of material access who will never be able to embody [cisgender beauty] 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 infomed [sic] 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.