Time’s refusal to place Cox on the list of the most influential people of the year says far, far more about the real state of transgender erasure and invisibility in the U.S. cultural landscape than does its attempts to reap the rewards of its own snub of her by placing her on the cover months later. Giving her the cover for the upcoming issue allows Time to hail Cox as an icon within her own community, while conveniently failing to acknowledge the place she, Mock, and other transgender women hold within the larger sphere of cultural influence—something her inclusion on the Time 100 would have and should have done.
The difference between the two may seem like splitting hairs, but it’s really not. Transgender individuals, and particularly trans women, are impacted to an extreme degree by the way they interact with the society outside of their community.
…Time’s snub came just months after Grantland reporter Caleb Hunnan made the decision to reveal the background of a transgender article subject, over her objections—after which she committed suicide. That piece, and the initial hoopla that surrounded it, reads like a textbook circlejerk of insulated sports journalists who are bogglingly unable to comprehend the spectacle of a secretive trans woman trying desperately to hide her prior identity.
In its apology, ESPN acknowledged that no one on its staff is trans. Moreover, no one on its staff had thought to run the article by a trans person at any stage, either for their thoughts on the high risks of outing a trans woman against her will, or the merit of exploiting her death after the fact in an article that attempted to paint her desire for privacy as duplicity and her trans identity as a kind of catfishing. The invisibility of trans women outside of their own community is lethal.
Time is priceless, but it’s Free. You can’t own it, you can use it. You can spend it. But you can’t keep it. Once you’ve lost it you can never get it back.