When it’s not about fame or fortune; How surviving a suicide attempt pushed one amazing lady to become a beacon of hope for people the world over.
Ever since landing the part of Sophia Burset in Orange is the new black, Cox has effected an impressive list of firsts for the transgender community. She’s the first black trans person to play a leading role on mainstream television, a role for which she was the first trans person to receive an Emmy nomination (she now has three). She’s the first trans person to win a Daytime Emmy (The T word). And she is also the first trans person to be featured on the cover of Time Magazine. But what amazes me above all, is how Laverne Cox is less phased about fame and fortune than she is about being an activist and fighting for trans gendered rights
As members of the LGBTQ community most of us probably have difficult memories of Puberty. This is such a confusing time; filled with hormones, notions of sexual conformity, and for some even a time of repression. I mean who does not remember this as an emotional exhausting time: having just become aware of your sexuality, but then, also having to consolidate fitting into societies norms.
For Cox it was during this difficult period where she attempted suicide at the young age of 11. Cox speaks about how she first fell for a male classmate during early puberty and the bullying and torment that ensued. “I didn’t act the way someone assigned male at birth was suppose to act.” She found constant verbal abuse through names like sissy and the F-word. Cox was even threatened with physical violence. This had such a dramatic effect on her emotional health, “I internalised a lot of shame about who i was as a child”.
I’m reminded of why Cox is such a Goddess; In looking back Laverne insists on empowering the younger generation of today, by saying she only wish she realised her powers and that she could tell herself: “You’re not crazy for thinking you’re a girl. You are a girl. Everything you’re going through now, everything is for a reason. And you’re going to get through it. And you’re going to be the person that you’ve always dreamt you’re going to be.”
It was only later during her college years where Cox became comfortable and made the decision to medically transition to female.
What makes Laverne a goddess is not all the accolades she’s received but rather how she uses her own struggles with gender identity to spread awareness and empower.
When Orange is the new black initially became a hit, the Transgender community where in a much different place. Speaking to Oprah magazine Cox Said: “I felt a huge responsibility and burden of representing my community. And I still feel that burden, but the difference is that there’s more of us now with a platform, and so I feel like the burden isn’t just on me and a few other people. I feel compelled because there’s so much injustice. I feel compelled to try and educate as much as possible.”
Her twitter feed is not only an inspiring mix of empowerment and love, but she is constantly giving voice to her community through other platforms. She did a video with ACLU highlighting the history of trans resistance and when Monica Jones was arrested for ‘walking while trans‘ she spoke out. “All over the country, trans women are targeted simply for being who they are. Laws like this manifestation law really support systematically the idea that girls like me, girls like me and Monica, are less than [others] in this country. ”
After the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting Cox took part in remembering the victims in a Human Rights campaign. In an evening with the Center for Constitutional rights , Cox gave a talk about how discrimination for trans woman in particular leads to homelesness, sex trade and criminalisation.
Laverne is also a staunch supporter for equal rights in the workplace. It is still legal to fire someone for being LGBTQ in 26 states, and Cox is publicly bringing awareness and support to the case being brought to the Supreme Court of America. In a partnership with RED and in honour of World Aids day Cox opened up about why she is passionate to ending HIV & AIDS, and even on the red carpet Cox’s inspirational passion for advocacy takes precedence as she brings awareness to LGBTQ rights.
In an Interview for the New York Times Cox speaks about gender constructs and the visibility of power.
Cox’s list of advocacy appears to be an unending one, and while there is so much yet to be done for equal rights in the transgender community , I am so glad that activists like Cox is determined to use her fame as a platform to humanise trans people and to apologetically spread love and acceptance for years to come.