Laverne Cox: Anti-trans bills are about ‘criminalizing our existence’

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Laverne Cox says state lawmakers’ efforts to restrict access to gender-affirming health care for transgender people are really attempts at “making us not exist.”

Referencing legislation introduced in Oklahoma earlier this month that would bar adults up to age 25 from receiving gender-affirming care, the “Orange is the New Black” star said, “For a year, we’ve been hearing from anti-trans pundits and politicians, ‘This is about children. This is about protecting children.’”

“But I think what this Oklahoma law reveals is that it’s never been about the children,” the transgender actor said during a Thursday interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

“It’s always been about scapegoating trans people, stigmatizing us and criminalizing our existence — making us not exist,” Cox said.

Calling out “anti-trans pundits and politicians” who say “horrible things about trans people,” she told co-host Mika Brzezinski that “the way we talk about trans people and with trans people in the media has an effect on these policies.”

Anti-transgender language, Cox, 50 said, “is finding its way into legislation.”

“Anti-trans folks have been setting the agenda and how we talk about this — and we need to take back the narrative and we need to do it right away,” she continued.

“If you’re a parent of a trans child, it’s your business. If you’re not, it’s none of your business,” Cox said.

“What adults do with their bodies is none of their business. This is America — it should be about freedom, bodily autonomy,” she added.

“Even for children, that’s their parents’ business. It’s their doctor’s business. It is not a legislator’s business, who doesn’t know anything about it.”

Cox recounted being bullied and attempting suicide multiple times while growing up in Alabama.

“I didn’t want to be trans. I did everything I could not to be trans, but I’m trans anyway,” Cox said.

“I grew up in an environment where there was no education about trans people, yet I was still trans. And yet I found my way,” the red carpet presenter and podcast host said. “Stopping education about trans people doesn’t stop us from being trans.”

Lawmakers who support the proposed Oklahoma legislation, Cox said, really just “don’t want trans people to exist.”

“And you can’t make us not exist,” she said. “That just doesn’t work.”

“There’s no trans question. I’m not a question,” Cox exclaimed. “I exist here. I have a material reality, lived experiences. And trans people have always existed, and we’re not going to stop existing if people don’t teach about us.”

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