This week marked another small step—or a giant leap—for transgender rights: Laverne Cox, the trans actress who plays Sophia Burset on “Orange Is the New Black” appeared this week on the cover of Time Magazine.
This is a big deal. It’s the first time that a trans woman has appeared on the cover of the weekly newsmagazine, and it’s also symbolic of growing awareness of transgender rights in this country.
Cox’s cover was in part a response to social media pressure on Time after they excluded Cox from their annual “100 Most Influential List.” After her cover was revealed, Cox wrote on Twitter thanking her followers for their support through the #whereislavernecox hashtag.
In the profile of Cox, a story by Katy Steinmetz titled “The Transgender Tipping Point,” Cox is frank about the discrimination that the trans community faces and her struggle when she was growing up in Alabama.
“We are in a place now where more and more trans people want to come forward and say, ‘This is who I am,’” Cox said. “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.”
Her point echoes a philosophy that has long been held in the LGBTQ community: The more people come out and are open about their sexual or gender orientation, the more accepted these communities become.
Cox also thinks social media has been a huge force in advancing the cause of transgender rights, creating a climate where there are resources for trans teenagers.
“Social media has been a huge part of it and Internet has been a huge part of it, where we’re able to have a voice in a way we haven’t been able to before,” she said. “We’re being able to write our stories and we’re being able to talk back to the media.”
“I think there are more media representations that young trans people can look to and say, that’s me, in an affirming way,” Cox said. “There’s just so many resources out there now that it makes you feel like you’re less alone.”
Here is the entire cover, in all of its glory: