#ShesGotVERVE - Why We Love Laverne Cox

It is revolutionary for any trans person to choose to be seen and visible in a world that tells us we should not exist.
— Laverne Cox
Laverne Cox


Who Is Laverne Cox?

Laverne Cox is an emmy-nominated actress, film producer and LGBT and equal rights advocate who rose to prominence playing Sophia Burset in Orange is the New Black. Cox was born in Alabama in the 1980s, endured bullying throughout her childhood and attempted suicide at just eleven years old. She moved to New York to pursue her acting career in her late teens.

Cox has since become the first openly transgender women to be nominated for an acting Emmy (2014 and again in 2017); to be on the cover of Time magazine (2014); and to win a Daytime Emmy as an Executive Producer (2015). She has been recognised repeatedly and won numerous awards not only for her acting, but also for her activism, for example she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the New School in New York City for her activism in gender equality.


Why We Love Her

Laverne Cox uses her platform to speak out about gender, race and their intersections, and current issues. For example, in response to Trump lifting transgender student bathroom protection in February 2017, Cox astutely noted that “it’s a civil rights issue. At the end of the day, we have to remember that bathroom access really is not about bathrooms”. (read more here).

In 2015 when Caitlyn Jenner was featured on the cover of Vanity Fair, Cox started the Twitter hashtag #transisbeautiful to “multiply trans narratives” - to acknowledge that her and Caitlyn’s stories are not universal, and to attempt to diversify what the public imagines to be the trans experience. “I started the hashtag to celebrate all the things that are beautiful about my transness,” she told the Guardian in an interview with Rebecca Nicholson

Laverne Cox

Cox is also vocal in joining conversations about gender and privilege. In response to arguments such as those by Jenni Murray or Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie that trans and cis-women’s experiences cannot be equated as transwomen may experience the world from the perspective of male privilege, Cox questioned openly on Twitter whether her gender assigned at birth really afforded her significant privilege over her peers. Cox pointed out that

I was a very feminine child although I was assigned male at birth. My gender was constantly policed. I was told I acted like a girl and was bullied and shamed for that. My femininity did not make me feel privileged… Gender exists on a spectrum & the binary narrative which suggests that all trans women transition from male privilege erases a lot of experiences and isn’t intersectional… There’s no universal experience of gender, of womanhood... Class, race, sexuality, ability, immigration status, education all influence the ways in which we experience privilege so though I was assigned male at birth I would contend that I did not enjoy male privilege prior to my transition.

Patriarchy and cissexism punished my femininity and gender nonconformity. The irony of my life is prior to transition I was called a girl and after I am often called a man. Gender policing & the fact that gender binaries can only exist through strict policing complicates the concept gendered privilege & that’s OK cause it’s complicated. Intersectionality complicates both male and cis privilege. This is why it is paramount that we continue to life up diverse trans stories. For too many years there’s been far too few trans stories in the media.

Read more here.


Awards She’s Won

  • 2013 – Anti-Violence Project 2013 Courage Award honoree

  • 2013 – Reader's Choice Award at Out Magazine's OUT100 Gala, honoring the magazine's selection of 2013s 100 "most compelling people of the year."

  • 2014 – Woman of the Year by Glamour magazine.

  • 2014 – Included in the annual Root 100; this list honors "standout black leaders, innovators and culture shapers" age 45 and younger.

  • 2014 – Topped the British newspaper The Guardian's third annual World Pride Power List, which ranks the world's most influential LGBT people.

  • 2014 – Stephen F. Kolzak Award from GLAAD.

  • 2014 – Named to the EBONY Power 100 list.

  • 2015 – Named to the 2015 OUT Power 50 List.

  • 2015 – Included in the People World's Most Beautiful Women List.

  • 2015 – Three Twins Ice Cream in San Francisco renamed its chocolate orange confetti ice cream Laverne Cox's Chocolate Orange Is the New Black for Pride weekend.

  • 2015 – Named in the 2015 Time 100 Most Influential People List; her entry was written by Jazz Jennings.

  • 2015 – Named by Forum for Equality as one of their 31 Icons of the LGBT History Month.

  • 2015 – Winner of a Daytime Emmy Award in Outstanding Special Class Special as Executive Producer for Laverne Cox Presents: The T Word. This made Cox the first openly transgender woman to win a Daytime Emmy as an Executive Producer; as well, The T Word is the first trans documentary to win a Daytime Emmy.

  • 2017 – Named to the 2017 OUT Power 50 List.


Black women are not often told that we’re beautiful unless we align with certain standards. Trans women certainly are not told we’re beautiful. Seeing a black transgender woman embracing and loving everything about herself might be inspiring to some other folks. There’s beauty in the things we think are imperfect.
— Laverne Cox
Laverne Cox
Laverne Cox