I remember a time when Americans seemed much tougher. No one talked about being represented, talked about, or talked to.
People just lived their lives.
You don’t acknowledge me? Who cares.
You think something different? Irrelevant.
People appeared to have the strength to be themselves without outside help.
Now, it seems, everyone needs to be featured and endorsed.
In my view, looking for affirmation is the absolute wrong way to live.
But this is where we are.
On Saturday night, Orange is the New Black actor-identifying-as-actress Laverne Cox spoke to the graduating class of Claremont, California’s Pitzer College.
Laverne recalled a Twitter argument during which someone accused him of leaving out “trans brothers’ struggle in [the] fight” for abortion rights. To Laverne, saying it was a “woman’s” right was good enough:
“Woman’s body. Woman’s right to choose. End of story. … I said to myself: ‘Can we just have a moment where we keep this simple? There’s so much going on in the world right now and it is so complicated. Can we have a moment for women? For women to be in solidarity with each other? Can I just be in solidarity with my sisters on this issue? Do we have to make it about all of the complicated nuances of the issue?’”
But upon reflection, the actor noted, he realized that his critic was right — trans men should be included in the abortion debate, because they can get knocked up. In their vaginas.
And language should be all about inclusivity:
“As I continued to process, I thought, for the first time, ‘What if I were a transgender man?’ What if I were a transgender man…and for whatever reason, I became pregnant unintentionally? If I were that trans man, I would really want to have language that incorporated and included my experience. When we use language that excludes groups of people on pertinent issues, it can jeopardize their health and well-being. Language that is appropriate and fully inclusive is a matter of life and death for so many people out there.”
Life and death??
Laverne’s message to America’s future was to not keep it simple and to make sure no one’s left out:
“What this brought up for me is that as you go out into the world, you’re going to be faced with a lot of difficult decisions, a lot of things that will make you uncomfortable, that are complicated and nuanced issues. And sometimes you might just want to keep it simple,” Cox said. “Can we focus on this part of the issue right now and just leave this out ― leave this group of people out?’ And what I would like to remind you of today is that when we are leaving people out, we are not really doing the work to be inclusive.”
To me, that message sounds like what would’ve been a Kindergarten lesson just a few years ago. In my estimation, the national maturity is regressing. We’re becoming an incredibly coddled culture.
Whatever happened to rugged individualism? In times past, the related message to graduates would’ve been, “Pursue your dreams, no matter what stands in your way. Have tenacity.”
Now it’s, “If everyone doesn’t agree with and support you, you’ll die”?
But that’s just me.
Laverne is certainly right about one thing: A trans man can indeed get pregnant, “for whatever reason.” Just see here:
Graduation speeches sure have come a long way. Monday’s NYU graduate school ceremony saw a condemnation of Israel and the President of the United States (here and here). And Saturday saw a male presenting as female remind the future that language and abortion are where it’s at.
How’s the country gonna look in a hundred years? It’s certainly gonna be…well, it’s gonna be somethin’.
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