ICYMI: Top 7 moments from Laverne Cox’s speech

Audra Gamble

1. “I stand before you this evening a proud African-American transgender woman. From a working class background, raised by a single mother, I stand before you an artist and an actress, a sister and a daughter. I believe it’s important to name the various intersecting components of my multiple identities, because I’m not just one thing. And neither are you.”

2. 2. “Seventy-eight percent of all students in grades K through 12 that expressed a transgender or gender non-conforming identity has experienced harassment or bullying. Seventy-eight percent. It is a state of emergency for far too many transgender people across this country, but as Dr. Cornel West reminds us, ‘justice is what love looks like in public.’ Isn’t that good? ‘Justice is what love looks like in public.’ And transgender people could use a little justice, could use a little love today. Black people, people of color, can use a little justice; can use a little love today. People with disabilities could use a little justice, could use some love today. Working and poor people could use a little justice, a little love today.”

3. 3. “The other kids used to say that I acted like a girl, whatever that means, because we know that girls act all kinds of ways, and from about preschool to high school, I was bullied practically every single day. I was often chased home from school by groups of kids that wanted to beat me up. I was called names and made to feel ‘other’ because of the way I acted.”

4. 4. “If we’re really interested in creating spaces where our children are not bullied, we have to begin to stop stigmatizing the behavior that might not be consistent with how we want to assign someone. If someone assigned male at birth wants to play with a doll or be feminine, that’s OK. It might not mean he’s gay, it might not mean he’s trans, it might just mean that he wants to play with dolls, and that’s cool. There’s nothing wrong with that.”

5. 5. “A lot of my process of working through the shame is realizing that I am worthy because of who I am. So I didn’t really feel safe in school and I didn’t really feel fully safe at home to be who I was, authentically, but where I felt most safe was in my imagination.”

6. 6. “I’m sitting in third grade, in the therapist’s office, and I remember the therapist asked me if I knew the difference between a boy and a girl. And in my infinite wisdom as a third-grader, because third graders are so wise, I said ‘there is no difference.’”

7. 7. “The bullies were policing my gender, my mom was, the teachers were, the therapist was. What’s interesting when I think about the gender binary model, I think that the most of the systems that we have, they need policing. The gender system, people need to police it to make sure that it stands. If each and every one of us created spaces of resistance to this system, we could dismantle it. Each and every one of us can choose not to be the gender police today.”