In a college commencement speech on Saturday, trans actor Laverne Cox, a biological man who identifies as a woman, lamented that women who identify as men are not included in the abortion debate.
According to HuffPost, Cox most famous for the role of Sophia Burset on Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black,” gave a speech at Pitzer College in Claremont, California, where the actor recalled a dispute with a Twitter follower who criticized a tweet that erased “trans brothers’ struggle in this fight” by regarding abortion only as a woman’s right to bodily autonomy.
“Woman’s body. Woman’s right to choose. End of story,” was Cox’s tweet accused of excluding transgender people.
“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,'” Cox said at the commencement speech. “‘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?’”
After reflection, Cox realized that perhaps the critic had a point and that the trans man factor should be included in the abortion debate, because, after all, trans men — women presenting themselves as men — can become pregnant. The actor said that this should be an opportunity to examine the inclusivity of our language on certain issues.
“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,” Cox said. “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.”
Finally, Cox advised the graduates in the audience that they will be faced with many uncomfortable decisions that may exclude other people.
“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.”
Multiple Hollywood actors and actresses have come out in recent weeks to push for abortion in the wake of Georgia and Alabama passing restrictive abortion laws. Just this week, Academy Award-winning actress Anne Hathaway joined the fray by denouncing the movement as the work of “white women.”
“Yes the anti-abortion movement is primarily about controlling women’s bodies under the premise (for many, sincere) of saving lives, and yes this law is primarily the work of white men HOWEVER a white woman sponsored the bill and a white woman signed it into law,” she wrote in an Instagram post. “As we’re resisting, let us also call out the complicity of the white women who made this awful moment possible, and which–make no mistake–WILL lead to the unnecessary and avoidable deaths of women, a disproportionate number of whom will be poor and/or black.”