Everywhere I turn today I’m seeing pictures of and reading about Caitlyn Jenner. Why didn’t she use a K? She looks like Jessica Lange. And more than anything else, she’s absolutely gorgeous.
I agree she’s gorgeous. So does Laverne Cox, who is also gorgeous. But what does that mean? After appearing on the cover of TIME last year, Cox was described by some as “drop dead gorgeous.” Today she says, in a statement on her Tumblr, “What I think they meant is that in certain lighting, at certain angles I am able to embody certain cisnormative beauty standards. Now, there are many trans folks because of genetics and/or lack of material access who will never be able to embody these 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 by race, class and ability among other intersections.”
Cox is speaking some powerful truth here. Styled hair, sculpted figures, and glamour don’t define beauty. Courage, honesty, kindness, self-expression, and love do. Thanks, Laverne Cox, for reminding us of that, and of the necessity of helping less privileged transgender people on their journeys.
Conveniently, another story that popped up in my news feeds today offers a perfect chance to do just that. It’s a Kickstarter for the Butterfly Music Transgender Chorus. As one of the only transgender choruses in the country, it aims to be “a trans-only singing space to explore the human voice, to determine (and re-assess as needed) range, work on musical skill building and create community.”
Singing is powerful medicine for the heart and soul. Singing together fosters connection, joy, and hope. When the members of the Butterfly Music Transgender Chorus stand up in front of an audience and raise their voices in song, that’s going to be drop dead gorgeous. I can’t wait to see and hear it.