By: Christine M. Hurley/TRT Reporter & Photographer—
Equal-rights activist, Emmy-nominated actress and documentary film producer Laverne Cox spoke at BAGLY yesterday in support of the Yes On 3 campaign, which upholds transgender rights—already in place since 2016 in Massachusetts.
Cox spoke about the importance of voting Yes On 3. The activist opened up about her struggles as a young person coming to terms with her gender identity. Cox said she had to be ready to “defend herself” emotionally every time she walked out her door and shared her early-life thoughts of suicide.
“Having Laverne here was an amazing opportunity for increased visibility and for our community to see someone who is so visibly out and supportive, supports the local movement and the local work for equal rights for trans people here in Massachusetts,” said Mason J. Dunn, Executive Director, MTPC (Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition), and Freedom Massachusetts Coalition’s Co-Chair.
Addressing the attendees, Cox shared how she would “leave notes around her apartment” with her name and proper pronouns so that if she ended her life, she wasn’t misgendered in death by the people who found her. When addressing the crowd, she called for unity and understanding.
“I want every trans person to know [that] you are here for a divine purpose, no matter what anybody says about you,” she said.
Invitation only, the conference was held at BAGLY’s (the nation’s longest running LGBTQ youth organization) new 5,000-square-foot downtown community center for youth.
“It was so exciting to have Laverne Cox come out today to support this important initiative,” said Grace Sterling Stowell, Executive Director, BAGLY. “Her national profile, stature, and respect in the community means so much that she is focusing her attention on our local battle here in Massachusetts, something that affects trans and non-binary people here and ultimately across the country.”
The conference space was packed with educators, business people, parents, and students such as: Chris Mulroney, of the Framingham Teachers Association; Merrie Najimy, president, Massachusetts Teachers Association; Alexandra Chandler, Massachusetts first openly transgender congressional candidate; Vanessa Ford, mother of a transgender daughter and STEM education expert; Jessica Tang, president, Boston Teachers Union; Beth Kontos, AFT-MA Union President; Beverly Hugo, president, Massachusetts Association of School Committees; Erik Fearing, president, Revere Teachers Association and chair of MTA LGBTQ committee; Kia Strickland, U-Mass Amherst; Chad Griffin, Human Rights Campaign president; and Chase Strangio, staff attorney, ACLU LGBT & HIV Project and transgender parent, among others. Also in attendance was Lia, a 10-year-old transgender student from North Reading, and Ashton, a14-year-old transgender teen from Lowell.
Six-year-old Olivia, Marblehead, was in attendance along with her mother, Savannah. When asked why Savannah thought it was important to attend, Savannah said, “I want to support my daughter.”
Best known for her breakout performance in the critically acclaimed series Orange is the New Black, and for being the first trans woman of color to produce and star in her own show, VH1’s TRANSForm, Cox complimented the courage of the young people in the room and was impressed by their strength. She specifically referred to trans teen Ashton, for his candid address to the crowd.
The actress reminded those present that transgender people have always lived in the world and were even revered in some cultures.
At the end of her speech, Cox made herself readily available for photos with fans and paid special attention to the youth in the crowd.
Last month, the Williams Institute, a California-based think tank released a report validating what many LGBTQ activists consider common sense: there’s no data to support the contention that allowing trans people to use the restroom that most closely aligns with their gender identity will lead to an increase in sexual violence against women and children, what many have called a “fear-mongering” technique by anti-equality proponents to have others vote against the measure (read more about this specific story here).
For more information and to learn more Question 3 and the Yes on 3 initiative go to https://is.gd/vLvZw5. To uphold the rights of transgender Americans in the Bay State by voting “Yes” on November 6.