OITNB Star Laverne Cox Used to Equate Being Trans with Failing

Since appearing on Orange Is the New Black as Sophia Burset (Litchfield Prison's premiere fire fighter-turned-hairstylist), actress and activist Laverne Cox has become a household name as both a fan favorite and as the actress — and trans woman — currently being credited with shining a light on the trans community and the issues trans people face on a day-to-day basis.


These days, Cox has been receiving a lot of well-deserved positive attention, but it hasn't always been that way. As the guest on last night's Totally Biased, the actress told W. Kamau Bell that a third grade teacher once told her mother that if she didn't get young Laverne (who was then in the body of a boy) into therapy, her son was "going to end up in New Orleans wearing a dress."

"At the time, I was eight years old," Cox recalled. "And I was like, 'Oh, my god. This is awful. I'm going to end up wearing a dress...and my mother's not going to love me' and for me it was 'My mother is not going to love me, I'm not going to be successful'...I equated being trans with not being successful."

Seeing how Cox is currently portraying one of the most hyped roles on one of the most hyped TV shows of the year, she's clearly proven her young self wrong.

Oh, and one more thing — I know we all love her, but can we please stop touching Laverne Cox on the street? Because she really does not like it.

"I wish people wouldn't touch me on the street," Cox told Bell while discussing her excitable fan base. "The reason why is because I am a black, trans woman who's lived in New York City for a very long time. When people are trying to touch me on the street, I'm ready to fight. I'm like, 'Does someone want to kill me?' and it's really not funny."

So hands off, people. In fact, just to be safe, let's not touch any stranger unless a.) they've made it clear that they want to be touched, b.) they need CPR or c.) you're pulling them out of the way of a speeding bus.


Kat Callahan

I still equate being trans with being less successful than I would have been otherwise, because it's true. Not because of personal failings, but because of the obstacles which exist, financially and socially, professionally during and after transitioning.

The wage gap is real, and it's not applied to all women equally. I need to see if I can track down the citation or infographic, but women of color and trans women have a wider gap than women in general, and of course trans women of color have an even wider gap. There are less promotions, more job changes which means less seniority, less benefits. Trans people rarely have the medical care we need insured.

I'm very lucky that in Japan, many of my needs are covered. But as I transition I am very cognisant that I may end up having to edit my past selectively in a way which, if I were to lose my current position, might end up making me appear to have less experience than I do, and my next position may have a lesser income or lesser benefits.