Laverne Cox for Gay Times June 2018
Jacqueline Harriet for Gay Times

The trailblazing activist powerfully slammed how debates on trans rights are handled.

Speaking on the podcast, LGBTQ&A, which focuses on LGBTQ history, LGBTQ activist Laverne Cox said: “I’m just done debating my existence. I’m done debating whether trans is real. I’m real.

“I’m sitting here and I have lived experiences as a woman, as a woman of trans experience, as a black woman, and so I’m done with that and I know a lot of trans folks are done with that.”

The subject that brought up Laverne’s comments were the three cases heading to the Supreme Court on whether someone can be fired for being LGBTQ.

Referencing this, the Orange is the New Black star said: “I was thinking about this now as I prepare to talk more about the Title VII case that’s going to the Supreme Court on October 8 and there are amicus briefs that are being submitted to the Supreme Court by folks who think it should be legal to discriminate against the LGBTQ+ community in employment.

“They’re basically debating the legitimacy of trans people, right? That there’s no such thing as being non-binary or trans and I’m just like, ‘I’m not interested in debating my identity or existence anymore.’

“At stake with Title VII is really, is it legal to discriminate against LGBTQ people? And I don’t think that’s the issue. I think the issue is, should it be legal to discriminate against anyone in this country? And I say no.”

She added: “We don’t need to debate trans existence. We need to say that we shouldn’t be discriminating against people because of who they are.”

Related: Partner of skydiving instructor fired for sexuality says Supreme Court battle needs to be won

Laverne Cox also spoke about her new work with (RED) and BAND-AID, which is working to help people who are living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa.

© Daniel Sancho via Flickr

Speaking about the impact the work would have, she said: “That is something concrete we can do to change the lives of people who are living with HIV, to stop the transmission of HIV from a mother to her unborn child.”

She also reflected on a personal experience she had with a friend, saying: “A dear friend of mine who passed away from HIV/AIDS, they didn’t get treatment because no one knew that they were HIV-positive.

“They didn’t want to tell anybody because of the stigma and the shame and they could still be alive if it weren’t for that stigma, and so we’ve got to let go of the stigma. We really do.

“I have such incredible friends who are living with HIV, who are undetectable and living these incredible lives because they have access to medication and I want to celebrate those friends.”

And when asked about “healing from the trauma” of her past, she said: “I’ve been doing a lot of work to heal from when I sort of went through puberty and was coming to age around my own sexuality: AIDS was a reality.

“And so AIDS has been a reality my entire sexual life, and so for many years, because I grew up religious and I internalized so much transphobia and homophobia, I associated it with sex, with getting AIDS and dying. There was so much shame and stigma attached, and so to do the work to sort of separate those things has been work. It’s been lot of therapy.”

A partial transcript of the full podcast can be found here.

Related: Laverne Cox in conversation with Peppermint