Laverne Cox Expresses Support For Suspended Trans Student

Illustration for article titled Laverne Cox Expresses Support For Suspended Trans Student

Star of Netflix's Orange is the New Black and advocate Laverne Cox has issued a statement in support of the Central Piedmont Community College student who alleges she was harassed and suspended for being a transgender woman.


Andraya Williams claims she was harassed by campus security for using the women's restroom in a campus building, then escorted out by multiple security officers, and told she was suspended from school. She says that when she tried to file grievances with the campus administration she had very misleading conversations and was told she had no rights because she was a transgender student.

Laverne Cox tweeted her support in the days after the news broke in several media outlets, and she has released this statement:

I had the privilege of meeting Andraya Williams back in February during a speaking engagement at UNC Charlotte. I found her to be a lovely young woman and remember being excited that she is pursuing higher education. I have heard far too many stories of trans folks experiencing harassment and bullying in school and not feeling safe enough to return. 78% of all trans and gender nonconforming students in grades k-12 experience harassment or bullying at school. I was deeply saddened to read news reports this week alleging Andraya had been harassed by security at Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC), where she is attending college. She allegedly was harassed by school security just for using the bathroom. This is the kind of systemic discrimination that often makes trans people feel unsafe just living our lives as well as pursuing our dreams. I applaud Andraya's courage in speaking out against this kind of treatment not only for herself but for all women and trans people who experience discrimination all around this country and the world. Trans people, particularly trans people of color have little opportunity to improve the quality of our lives without being able to pursue the educations necessary for that improvement, safe from harassment and discrimination.


Meanwhile CPCC has released a pretty non-specific, unapologetic statement of their own:

Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) is an open-door, open-access institution of learning, and we are proud of its rich diversity.

CPCC has a 50-year history of being fair, respectful and considerate of all students.

The college does not tolerate harassment of any kind.

College personnel have been investigating the incident in question for several days, and the goal is to reach an amicable resolution with the student in the near future.

The college has examined its policies and procedures, and we are certain that they are in compliance with current laws. The college will work to ensure those policies are followed and clearly communicated.

We intend to have on-going dialogue with local and state LGBT leaders, including the college's own LGBT organization, as we continue to address this issue.

Image via Getty.

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I Still Dream

The treatment of this woman has been absolutely despicable.

Also, though, this whole mess gives me an idea. I'm an advocate for disability rights (and a disabled (cis)man myself) and I think we may be the only other community that can understand how frustrating it is for trans advocates to have to burn so much time and political capital just trying to ensure that the people they support can safely use the bathroom. Fortunately, though, single-user, non-gendered, accessible bathrooms in every office, business, and college dorm (and ideally on every floor) would go a long way towards solving both of our problems*. How's about a little coalition-building?

*=Obviously, the difference is that our need for accessible bathrooms is inherent, while yours is the product of bigotry. In a sane world, you could use the bathroom facilities of the gender you identify with without any concern. And building more non-gendered, single user bathrooms obviously doesn't mean that we shouldn't also be fighting for transpeople's right to use regular bathroms—a fight I'm quite happy to support you in. But it seems like, at least in the near term, this would do a lot to help make you safer and less forced to potentially out yourselves.

ETA: And, as a disability rights advocate, the fact that there were only two single-user acessible bathrooms on that campus is horrifying! Colleges are some of he worst places in existence for accessibility.