Laverne Cox is best known for her role as Sophia Burset in the critically acclaimed Netflix show Orange Is the New Black. In addition to acting Cox is an avid advocate for transgender and women’s rights. Born on May 29, 1984 in Mobile Alabama, Cox always felt she was female despite being born biologically male.
Cox was bullied ruthlessly for appearing feminine while lacking approval from her own family. She held onto her love for the arts taking up dancing at Indiana University of Bloomington. It wasn’t until after moving to New York and studying at Marymount Manhattan College that she switched to acting, coming out as transgender.
Since gaining recognition for her role as Sophia, a transgender inmate, on the show, Cox has emerged as a public leader of the tans movement. She recalls being very young and thinking there was no difference between girls and boys. In her imagination, she believed puberty would mark her transformation to her true form as a woman.
Cox’s perceived disapproval from her deceased grandmother led her to swallow a bottle of pills, hoping to never wake up. What makes her so influential is her ability to relate to the many transgender people who feel they are disappointments to their families and the world. Transgender individuals often feel alone and have a difficult time coming to terms with their identity.
“There’s just so many resources out there now that it makes you feel like you’re less alone and gives some sort of sense of, okay, this is who I am and this is what I’m going through, as opposed to being ‘What the f*** is wrong with me?”, she said during an interview with TIME magazine.
Although views on Transgender people are more tolerant than they have been in the past, there are still those who remain ignorant to the ideology of Transgender people. Cox uses her stardom to enlighten and give hope to others who may be experiencing the obstacles she has endured. Due to activism from the LBGT community and its supporters, various milestones have been made to improve the way of life for transgender people.
Cox being the first Transgender who has been nominated for an Emmy as well as the first to appear on the cover of time TIME magazine is an enormous step in the right direction to equal representation of Transgender people throughout society.