“Ain’t I A Woman?” Laverne Cox at UMASS

Hundreds gather to see Laverne Cox at UMASS, photo by Vanessa Gonzalez

Inspired. Brainy. Sexy. Brilliant. So many words come to mind when in the presence of Laverne Cox.

Tonight Laverne Cox spoke at UMASS Amherst for the homecoming event and the place was packed.
Cox is the first transgendered African American woman to co-create and co-produce her own show (which she stars in) called TRANSform Me. Most peeps however know her from the smash hit “Orange is the New Black.”

Just walking into the Student Center Ballroom and looking at the audience trying to find seating was an experience; Sensing the buzz in the air, hearing the excitement – feeling the possibility of a better tomorrow. That is what Laverne Cox is doing and what she is all about.

Laverne spoke about her childhood in Alabama and how the major oppression she experienced and led to internalized transphobia. When she told the audience that if they could experience the amount of love that she was feeling tonight and send that to all transgendered people there was a huge silence from the audience. Laverne filled that space with her smile and humor.

Oppression and privilege are things we all have to work on. The audience laughed in some inappropriate parts, like when she was talking about violence in her past. Some people cannot understand the violence that transgendered individuals experience, but some of the laughter that happened throughout the speech was ignorant and insulting. I think at times Laverne was even surprised (a few of the questions during Q&A… but let’s talk about that another day).

The main point that I got from Laverne is that we are all people and we all need to respect who we are. What makes a woman? What makes a man? It’s being human to each other and celebrating our differences that matters. We are all beautiful, important and essential.

Laverne Cox is an amazing, brilliant, brainy, sexy and motivational woman and if you ever get the opportunity to be in her presence I suggest you go. It was an experience for me.

Together we will stand, United we are falling.
Vanessa Gonzalez


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