Laverne Cox: How To Be a Woman

You probably know her because she was on the cover of Time Magazine. Or maybe you’re an avid watcher of Orange Is The New Black, a show which has the most diverse and incredible cast I have ever seen and in which Laverne Cox playing Sophia Burset, a trans inmate. Or maybe you just keep an eye out for incredible women. Regardless, you should know that Laverne Cox is talented, wonderful, and serves as an inspiration to women all over the world, and especially to trans women. She is, arguably, the most prominent trans celebrity today and she does a great job of showing that world is full of all kinds of different women.

What makes a woman a woman? As a student of the first women’s college in the US, I frequently take part in these conversations. What I’ve gotten out of my experience here so far is that there is no great formula for being a woman–we all look different, have different values, different languages and accents, different cultures, different hometowns, different sexualities, different sexualities, and different dreams. The only thing that holds us together is that we have come together on this beautiful campus to explore our true potential regardless of what the rest of the world have told us what we can and cannot do.

In September, my college’s president, Lynne Pasquerella, announced that Mount Holyoke College would finally admit transwomen in the upcoming years. Her words were greeted cheers and tears of happiness from the crowd. Most students share our president’s sentiment about the issue:

“Just as early feminists argued that reducing women to their biological functions was a foundation of women’s oppression, we acknowledge that gender identity is not reducible to the body.”

– Lynn Pasquerella

While most were happy to hear the news, some students and alumni were less than thrilled, believing that admitting people who are not biologically female would be injurious to this historic college’s history and mission. I believe the exact opposite is true: Mount Holyoke was created to offer a proper education to young women when traditional colleges would not admit them. Now, Mount Holyoke can continue the tradition by admitting and educating those who share the common experience of growing up in a world where they are automatically perceived as being less capable, and we, as the students at this institution, can in return use our educations to change the world for the better.


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