Laverne Cox experienced a transphobic attack in Los Angeles on Saturday, Nov. 28, while out walking with a friend.
In a video shared to her Instagram, the Orange is the New Black star said that a man in Griffith Park “aggressively” asked for the time, before proceeding to question Cox’s gender identity and assault her friend.
Cox said that the attack was a reminder that “you’re not safe if you are a trans person” and “it doesn’t matter who you are.”
She detailed the attack during the 10-minute video, noting that Cox and her friend “passed this guy, and the guy very aggressively asked for the time.”
After Cox’s friend responded with the time, the man looked at Cox and asked, “Guy or girl?”
Cox’s friend told the man to “fuck off,” which prompted the man to attack. Cox, realizing what was happening, said she was “kind of in shock.”
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“I’m walking, I’m hearing all of this and it’s happening in like a split second, and then all of a sudden the guy is attacking my friend,” Cox said.
“I pull out my phone and call 911,” she continued. “All of a sudden it’s over and the guy is gone. I put my phone away and I’m like: ‘What just happened?’”
Neither Cox nor her friend were injured, she said.
The attack was a reminder of the “long history of harassment” Cox has experienced.
“It’s not safe in the world and I don’t like to think about that a lot but it is the truth,” she said. “It’s the truth, you’re not safe if you are a trans person. Obviously, I know this well.”
Cox believes the man was “looking for trouble…because I happened to be a trans person in public.” She speculated that he asked for the time to hear her voice and try to determine her gender identity.
“I don’t know why it matters,” she said. “At the end of the day, it’s like, who cares? I’m in a hoodie and yoga pants, completely covered up, I’ve got my mask on. Who cares if I’m trans? Why does this affect your life?”
Cox said that while she had “dealt with this a lot,” encountering transphobia “never fails to be shocking.”
“I’ve been trans my whole life. I’ve been harassed and bullied my whole life. None of this is new,” she said.
Cox said she was “lucky and grateful” that her friend was with her and wanted to protect her.
“It doesn’t matter who you are,” she said. “You can be Laverne Cox, you know, or whatever that means. If you’re trans, you’re going to experience stuff like this. Luckily my friend is safe, luckily I’m safe.”
Cox made history with her role in Orange is the New Black, becoming the first openly transgender person to be nominated for a primetime Emmy Award in any acting category, scoring four Outstanding Guest Actress nominations for her role as Sophia Burset.
In an interview with Metro Weekly earlier this year, Cox attributed her characters impact to how “deeply humanized” Sophia was, and that she was portrayed by a transgender actor.
“I think part of the difference is what it means to have trans people play trans characters,” Cox said. “I think that begins to shift how we see representation because of who is playing the role. Trans people playing trans characters is really important in the trajectory of us trans folks being seen in television and film.”
Cox also noted the different ways she experiences transphobia now that she has gained fame and notoriety.
“When you are famous, I’ve learned, it erases a lot of things. Fame becomes a sort of great equalizer in this culture that worships celebrity,” she said. “A lot of things that other black trans women are going through on a daily basis, I don’t go through because I’m famous, and I’m privileged enough to be able to shield myself from certain everyday realities. That’s real.”
Instead, Cox said she encounters transphobia online, noting the comments section under a recent supportive Essence article was “so deeply transphobic. There were so many people misgendering me. It was vicious.”
“There is vicious transphobia towards me from certain people online on other sites,” she added. “I’m concerned about how that might affect people who are more marginalized than I am and are more at risk. That is a reality.”
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