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Laverne Cox, who stars as Sophia Burset in Netflix’s Orange is the New Black, has made history as Time magazine’s first transgender cover person. Hailed on the magazine’s cover as the “transgender tipping point,” Cox’s cover story follows intense backlash and criticism directed at Time after Cox was omitted from the magazine’s annual “100 most influential people” list.
Cox, who has used her celebrity to advocate for transgender rights and increased acceptance and awareness of trans issues, was included in a poll asking which stars the public thought merited inclusion in Time’s final list. Despite placing fourth in the total percentage of “yes” votes and maintaining one of the highest ratios of yes to no votes, Cox was not included in the final list which appeared online and in Time magazine. Fans of Cox, as well as LGBT activists, rallied around the omission, starting the #whereislavernecox hashtag on Twitter. This week’s issue seems to be Time’s effort to revert their perceived wrongdoing.
Recipient of this year’s Stephen F. Kolzak Award, presented by GLAAD to an openly lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender media professional who has made a significant difference in promoting equality, Cox touched upon the issue of transphobia in the media — something she was subjected to in a now infamous segment on Katie Couric’s talk show, alongside model Carmen Carrera. Cox and Carrera politely objected to Couric’s questions regarding their genitalia, which, combined with Piers Morgan’s mishandling of his interview with writer and journalist Janet Mock, forced transgender issues into the spotlight. “That felt like a moment when things really shifted,” Cox told Time. During the interview with Couric, Cox took the opportunity to shift the focus from transition and surgery towards the real issues affecting the trans community. “I felt really good about it and I remember thinking, as many people who have been on daytime TV, I’ve never heard someone push back and really talk about the homicide rate in the trans community and talk about the disproportionate discrimination.”
For the full interview, head over to Time. Alternatively, or, indeed, afterwards, you can read our own interview with Laverne Cox last year, which she acknowledged as being her first-ever cover story. Yeah, we’re pretty smug about that one. Read our article with the incredible Cox here, and check out her tweet below thanking us. (Smug faces all round.)
— Laverne Cox (@Lavernecox) August 8, 2013