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Trans actress Laverne Cox tells graduating class that abortion rights aren’t just women’s rights — they’re trans men’s rights, too


'When we are leaving people out, we are not really doing the work to be inclusive.'

Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic

Transgender actress and activist Laverne Cox delivered a graduation speech at Pitzer College in Claremont, California, in which she called for people to pay heed to the notion that abortion isn't just a woman's "right," but a trans man's "right," too.

What did she say?

Cox, 46 years old and famous for her breakout role in Netflix's "Orange is the New Black," told the students that she'd engaged in a Twitter debate with another user who took issue with her advocacy for women's abortion rights.

Her tweet read, "Woman's body. Woman's right to choose. End of story."

The Twitter user, according to the actress, went on to complain that Cox wasn't inclusive enough in her tweets, and had completely overlooked trans 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."

"'Can we have a moment for women?'" she continued. "'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?'"

Cox said that after considering the Twitter user's remarks, she discovered that he had a point, and determined that transgender men should be included in the debate about abortion and women's rights.

"As I continued to process, I thought, for the first time, '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," she 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."

Leaving people out is not an option

Cox went on to tell the graduating class that leaving people out is not an option if you want to be inclusive.

"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," she said. "And sometimes you might just want to keep it simple.

"'Can we focus on this part of the issue right now and just leave this out ― leave this group of people out?'" she continued. "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."

Pitzer College's 55th Annual Commencement youtu.be

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