National treasure Laverne Cox isn't one to shy away from political activism. After her breakthrough role on Orange is the New Black, the LGBT icon has consistantly been a voice of reason, passion, empathy, and intelligence in political discourses often dominated by bloviating white dudes. Speaking out on issues from transgender rights to women's health, Laverne Cox has recently sat down with President of Planned Parenthood, Cecile Richards, for an extensive dialogue in Interview Magazine.
Richards is similalrly bold in her pursuit of justice for women and women's health. We all watched as she patiently deflected hours worth of absurd and factually incorrect criticism from mansplaining Republicans earlier this year:
The conversation between the two is absolutely fascinating, with the women exchanging smart, passionate, and honest commentary on the state of healthcare and gender in America in 2016. Here's some highlights from the conversation:
Richards on the erosion of healthcare: " It's not just a theoretical problem. What we're seeing is that people actually are losing care. That's what's heartbreaking. I think because a lot of legislation has gone after women, we're seeing women in areas of Texas where they're now going to have to drive hundreds of miles to get the kind of reproductive health care choices they need. It's unconscionable. After all that we did under President Obama to get better access to health care, that some states are going backwards, it's infuriating."
Richards on LGBT care at Planned Parenthood: "What we're seeing, I can say in the last couple of years, is just an explosion of access. It's only going to continue to grow. The other thing that is important to me, Laverne, and what we are really working on at Planned Parenthood, is how important it is for our patients to be able to go to a health care provider where they're not judged and they're not stigmatized and they're treated completely with respect. I was at a big dinner here in New York, and one of the most prominent transgender activists in the area of health care said, "It's sort of amazing once a Planned Parenthood health center opens up, it's like the Underground Railroad. Everyone knows."
Cox on trans healthcare: "For years, for decades now, trans people have had to educate our providers about how to proceed with treating us. The big issue is that doctors and health care providers are trained enough and up to date on the specific needs of trans people ... There are so many aspects of health care beyond just hormones and surgery for trans people. Knowing that a trans man might need a pap smear, or prostate checks for women, and that both trans women and trans men probably need breast exams, all of those little things people sometimes don't think about. They just think about the transition part of it. So what's important is having health care professionals who really are aware of all those issues and can address those issues, and knowing the right questions to ask when they are talking to trans people to make us feel safe."
Cox on healthcare for young women: "They know they have a voice, but they want their voices to be heard. They want to be authentic, and they want to be themselves, and they want to have a mirror. I think that when I go to speak to students, they want to see themselves somehow reflected in me, and in something bigger than themselves ... What's exciting now is that all of these young people have the capacity to change, but then there are these systems still in place that are patriarchal and sexist and transphobic and any number of things. I think we as individuals have the power to change these systems, and to do it with a voice and with a sense of empathy and love for everyone's voice. I think what the internet has done is given everyone a space to have a voice. Young people understand that better than anybody else. If we lift everyone's voice, then we can change the world."
Seriously, this interview is amazing. You can read the whole thing over here.