"Orange is the New Black" star Laverne Cox graces the cover of this week's issue of Time magazine, discussing her role in the burgeoning transgender rights movement and her own struggles with her identity.
Cox, who plays inmate Sophia Burset on the Netflix prison-set series, has become an activist and icon in the transgender community after shooting to fame through "Orange." But as the actress reveals, she wasn't always so sure of who she was, and grew up constantly afraid that by being herself, she would be rejected by her family and her peers.
The actress said that she was repeatedly bullied from a young age for wanting to dance and perform, and always thought of herself as feminine, despite being born a boy. She recalled an instance when a group of boys jumped her as she exited a school bus, and hit her repeatedly with drum sticks. In third grade, her teacher called her mother and warned her that Cox would someday "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," Cox told Time. "I think in my imagination I thought that I would hit puberty and I would start turning into a girl. ... Going to a therapist and the fear of God being placed in me about ending up in New Orleans wearing a dress, that was a profoundly shaming moment for me. I associated it with being some sort of degenerate, with not being successful."
That shame led Cox to attempt suicide when she was only in sixth grade, though the pills she swallowed only gave her a stomachache. Cox admits that she still struggles today with feelings of isolation and confusion, though the growing trans community -- and the support it has slowly started to gather nationwide -- helps.
"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," Cox said. " ... 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."
The entire, inspiring interview is worth a read. Check it out over at Time.
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