Laverne Cox – Actress and Trans Activist
Most people recognize Laverne Cox from her role on Orange is the New Black—the Netflix Original series sensation. Prior that, however, Cox made numerous bit-part appearances on shows like ‘Law & Order’ and ‘Law & Order: SVU’ before landing the part of Sophia Burset on the Netflix hit. Since then she has not only been a regular guest panelist alongside Whoopi Goldberg on ABC’s ‘The View’ but also made appearances on ‘The Mindy Project, ‘Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce’ and ‘Entertainment Tonight’, as well as a stint on ‘I want to Work for Diddy’. Basically, Laverne Cox is much sought after and there are no signs of her popularity dwindling.
It was on May 29th 2014—her thirtieth birthday—that Laverne Cox graced the cover of Time Magazine—at that time the only openly transgender person to features on the front of the famous weekly mag. It wasn’t the only milestone for Cox that year. She was also voted ‘Woman of the Year’ by Glamour Magazine, topped The Guardian list of most influential LGBT people, won the Stephen F. Kolzak award by GLAAD for her work in the transgender community, and was named in the Power 100 list by Ebony and she still hasn’t peaked yet. (continued below)
Born in Mobile Alabama, Cox has a twin brother—who portrayed Cox’s Orange is the New Black character during her pre-transition period in the series. Cox’s life was not always as happy and successful as it appears to be now. She was tormented as a child because she didn’t act the way she was supposed to act according to the gender she was assigned at birth. She also found herself attracted to some of the boys in her school, which perpetuated the bullying for some time. Up until she was eight, Cox revealed that she didn’t even realize she was a boy until someone told her. Even then, she regarded it with some disbelief; after all, she thought she was a girl and the ‘boy’ label was just wrong. Even as young as aged five she was begging to be allowed to take dance classes until finally, at the age of eight her mom agreed. At the tender age of eleven Cox admits that she tried to commit suicide because of the pressure. However, she claims that if it wasn’t for education and reading she might not have survived at all because she never felt completely safe as a child.
Cox graduated from ‘The Alabama School of Fine Arts’, studying creative writing, initially and then swapping over to dance. She also went on to study for two years at Indiana University Bloomington, after which she headed to Marymount Manhattan College, NYC where she switched majors, once again, this time from dance to acting.
In her adult years Cox went through similar periods of depression and anxiety but the difference compared to her childhood is that she now has a support network she can turn to. Even her mom admitted that she had no idea how to act, or behave or respond to her young son’s struggle but now they have a good relationship and Laverne feels supported by her mother.
Laverne is a spokesperson for the transgender community and recently, positive developments including the emergence of Caitlyn Jenner, has brought some much desired and much deserved positive publicity for transgender people around the world. She plans to continue her advocacy work and bring awareness to the forefront, as well as working to create a diverse representation in the media so that acceptance becomes part of the norm.
Cox has also created a new hashtag (#TransIsBeautiful) to celebrate everything transgender and bring affirmative thoughts about the transgender community, changing hearts and minds all over the world. With new TV and movie works in the pipeline we wonder just how she will find time to sit down and relax!