Transgender actress and activist, Laverne Cox has made history on the cover of Time magazine. Called an unlikely icon, Cox remembers a time when she was bullied and harassed for appearing feminine while growing up in Mobile, Alabama.
The article is titled, “The Transgender Tipping Point” andCox gushes over her tipping point in finally getting over those bullies and now being comfortable in her own skin:
“I’m so busy and I’m living my dream. I feel like myself and I feel pretty integrated, like the person that I am inside is who the world is seeing, which feels calming. But it’s not like ‘Oooooohhh, I a woman now and the world is amazing.’ There’s hardships. There are a lot of struggles still. I’m happy that I am myself and I couldn’t imagine my life if I were still in denial or lying, pretending to be a boy. That seems ridiculous to me. That seems crazy at this point … It’s nice to be done with transitioning.
We are in a place now where more and more trans people want to come forward and say ‘This is who I am.’ And more trans people are willing to tell their stories. More of us are living visibly and pursuing our dreams visibly, so people can say, ‘Oh yeah, I know someone who is trans.’ When people have points of reference that are humanizing, that demystifies difference. Social media has been a huge part of it and the Internet has been a huge part of it, where we’re able to have a voice in a way that we haven’t been able to before. We’re being able to write our stories and we’re being able to talk back to the media … We are the reason. And we are setting the agenda in a different way.”
Funny enough, the “Orange is the New Black” star was left off of Time’s list of 100 Most Influential people in April, even though she received an overwhelming number of votes. Time doesn’t automatically include everyone who has received a high number of votes on their list, but they do consider the feedback when compiling the list. When Cox didn’t make it on the list, the powers that be at Time had no comment as to why.
Not making the list didn’t phase Cox, however, she’s since credited her cover and the article to the hashtag that was started in her honor, #whereislavernecox. “Thanks to everyone who used this # & spoke out,” she wrote on Twitter Thursday morning “U made this happen.” She also added that it was a “lovely bday present, a cover story 2 highlight the profound issues trans people face everyday.”
What a beautiful way to show the world that many of our strict ideals of gender and sexuality are opening up and allowing people like Laverne Cox to champion the movement. It’s humbling to view our world in this way.
From the interview:
The people out there in America who have no idea what being transgender means, what do they need to understand?
There’s not just one trans story. There’s not just one trans experience. And I think what they need to understand is that not everybody who is born feels that their gender identity is in alignment with what they’re assigned at birth, based on their genitalia. If someone needs to express their gender in a way that is different, that is okay, and they should not be denied healthcare. They should not be bullied. They don’t deserve to be victims of violence. … That’s what people need to understand, that it’s okay and that if you are uncomfortable with it, then you need to look at yourself.
And what were you like as a child?
I was really creative. I started to dance very young. I loved to dance. I begged my mother to put me into dance classes and finally, in third grade, she did. Tap and jazz but not ballet. She thought ballet was too gay … Throughout all of that, I was very feminine and I was really bullied, majorly bullied. There was this side of me that was this over-achiever that loved learning. But then I was also taunted at school. I was called names. I was made fun of.
Are there any particular instances of bullying that stand out in your memory?
There was this one instance in junior high when I had gotten off the bus and I was chased by a group of kids, which was, you know, pretty normal. They couldn’t really bully me on the bus because the bus driver could see in the rearview mirror, and that wasn’t allowed. But the second we got off the bus, they would try to beat me up. So I’d have to start running, immediately. So that day I was running for my life, basically, and four or five kids caught me. They were in the band. And I remember being held down and hit with drumsticks by these kids. And a parent saw it, the parent of some other student, and called the principal and the principal called my mother and my mother found out about it.
Is there a moment or time you remember first feeling like you might be transgender?
I tell this story about third grade. My third grade teacher called my mom and said ‘Your son is going to end up in New Orleans wearing a dress.’ Up until that point I just thought that I was a girl and that there was no difference between girls and boys. I think in my imagination I thought that I would hit puberty and I would start turning into a girl.
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