#WCE - Laverne Cox

Laverne Cox is a true all-rounder. Not only is she an incredible actress, reality TV star and producer, she is a dedicated LGBTQ+ advocate. As an African-American trans woman from a working class background raised by a single mother, Cox has said such intersecting identities would historically leave people like her facing the harshest of burdens posed by society. But she has managed to climb the greatest heights and truly shown the world that trans really is beautiful. Because of all these things, her strong and positive visibility in today’s discriminatory cultural climate, and her determination to overcome adversity, is the reason why she deserves to be our #womancrusheveryday.

WHO? Laverne Cox was born in Mobile, Alabama, U.S on 29 May 1984. During her school years, she recalls being on the receiving end of transphobia when she realised her true gender identity, attempting suicide as a result. After overcoming this difficult time period, Cox enrolled at Marymount Manhattan College to study acting. Now she is most famous for her recurring role in the hugely popular Netflix series Orange Is The New Black as Sophia Burset, a trans woman serving a sentence for credit-card fraud. Through this role, Cox has raised awareness of the experiences trans women face in the prison system, became the first openly trans person to be nominated for an Emmy Award and also became the first openly African-American trans woman to star in a mainstream TV series. Cox also made history by appearing as the first openly trans person on the cover of TIME magazine, positioned next to an apt headline that read ‘’The Transgender Tipping Point’’. Amongst these admirable achievements, Cox has produced and starred in TRANSform Me, which also made her the first African-American trans person to produce and star in a TV show, starred in a re-make of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, and produced and narrated Laverne Cox Presents: The T Word, earning her a Daytime Emmy Award. Although Cox has been recognised, and rightly so, as the ‘’first to do something’’ and been awarded many prestigious awards, it’s her passion for justice and commitment to helping other LGBTQ+ people that truly positions her as a worthy #womancrusheveryday.

HOW? There are many reasons why Cox is known as a trailblazer in the LGBTQ+ community. Something that she has done to help change the negative narrative surrounding trans people into a positive one is through her social media activism, or ‘’hashtag activism’’. Cox started the hashtag ‘#TransIsBeautiful’’ to, as she wrote in a Tumblr post about Caitlyn Jenner, ‘’celebrate all those things that make trans folks uniquely trans, those things that don’t necessarily align with cisnormative beauty standards. For me it is necessary every day to celebrate every aspect of myself, especially those things about myself that don’t align with other people’s ideas about what is beautiful. #TransIsBeautiful is about, whether you’re trans or not, celebrating all those things that make us uniquely ourselves.’’ With over 250,000 Instagram posts using this hashtag, Cox is clearly helping to slowly shift people’s views about trans people. Not only is social media a platform for Cox to raise awareness of trans issues, but she also regularly delivers inspirational speeches at universities across America to raise awareness of the struggles facing trans people today. In particular, Cox captivated audiences by delivering a famous speech at the University of Kentucky back in 2014 where she reminded people that amongst the LGBTQ+ community, trans women, especially trans women of colour, are most likely to experience bullying, commit suicide and become victims of murder. Amongst the many other countless things she does for trans rights, she also starred in the Human Rights Campaign tribute video addressing the tragic 2016 Orlando Gay Nightclub Shooting, driving further, much-needed conversations about LGBTQ-phobia in today’s society.

WHY? A trailblazer, an icon, a role model, one of the most influential people on earth – just some of the many descriptions given to her by critics and the media, but She Works names her as a #WomanCrushEveryday, for reasons that are self-evident: she is articulate, educated, classy, inspirational, narrative-challenging, passionate, talented, fresh, and most importantly for many trans people, and for all in many ways, relatable.

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