Laverne Cox Used to Avoid Talking About Race

If we’ve learned anything from Orange is the New Black star Laverne Cox, it’s that being a feminist is about way more than believing in equality between men and women—it’s seeking equality for people of all genders, sexual orientations, races and economic backgrounds, a concept known as intersectionality. Cox spoke about it in depth during a panel event at Cosmopolitan's Fun Fearless Life.

“My mission has been about owning every single aspect of who I am ... at the same time,” she said. “As I've begun to embrace intersectionality in every dimension of my humanity, and speaking about it, I've been finding my power.”

Cox admitted that she didn’t always openly embrace all aspects of her identity. She explained that early on in her career, she was “afraid to talk about race.” She added: “I remember I had this national platform for the first time, I was really nervous about talking about race, and I certainly had a lot of perspectives on institutional and structural racism." She feared that “mainstream America” might not be able to handle talking about all these different aspects of identity, especially when they are all a part of one person.

However, once she found the courage to start addressing racism, “I felt so much more empowered,” she said. “Because it's part of my own experience, it's part of how I see the world, and it also helps me begin to find my community.”

During the panel, Cox was also asked about #TransIsBeautiful, a hashtag she started to embrace what it means to be “uniquely trans.” While initially she found it humiliating to be identified as trans, she eventually realized, “if someone can look at me and tell that I'm transgender, that's not only OK, it's beautiful. All the things about me that make me uniquely and beautifully trans I now celebrate. My big hands, my big feet, my wide shoulders, my deep voice, my height.”

Cox is an incredibly gifted and eloquent speaker, and has the unique ability to educate us about issues of race, sex and gender in just a few minutes—and we're so glad to have a role model like her.