Laverne spoke about a number of powerful issues in the interview, including the details of the awful bullying she received as a kid. Describing one incident in particular, she said, “I was running for my life, basically, and four or five kids caught me. They were in the band. And I remember being held down and hit with drumsticks by these kids. And a parent saw it, the parent of some other student, and called the principal and the principal called my mother and my mother found out about it.”
Instead of being sympathetic, Laverne’s mother shamed her daughter for not fighting back. Laverne grew up with a lot of shame, believing for years that there was something wrong with her. Now as a trans activist, she’s doing everything she can to make sure other young trans people don’t have to go through that societal shame.
One thing she’s adamant about changing the dialogue on trans people in the media. Often all the media wants to talk about is anatomy, but asking a person what genitals they have is no one’s business. There are more pressing issues, and Laverne talked about how she told TV journalist Katie Couric that. “I felt really good about it and I remember thinking, As many people who have been on daytime TV, I’ve never heard someone push back and really talk about the homicide rate in the trans community and talk about the disproportionate discrimination and talk about someone like Islan Nettles, who lost her life just because she was walking down the street while trans. And to shift the narrative away from transition and surgery. I’ve never seen someone challenge that narrative on television before. But in the community, we’ve been talking about this and frustrated for years.”
And she does see some things changing for the better. “We’re being able to write our stories and we’re being able to talk back to the media … And we are setting the agenda in a different way.”