The world is in quarantine for coronavirus, but Laverne Cox, 48, is making the best of it. The four-time Emmy-nominated actress, Emmy-winning producer, and prominent equal rights advocate is launching a new podcast, the Laverne Cox Show, on February 4. Plus, she’s announced there is a new love in her life.
Appearing on Ellen, Cox said:
“[Found love in 2020] almost sounds like a punchline, but, yeah, Laverne is in love again, and it feels amazing,” she said. “Love is an incredible thing. It’s literally this chemical thing that’s awesome, and he is a really great guy, and I didn’t expect it.”
Laverne Cox’s new love hasn’t dated a transgender woman before, and neither had her past two boyfriends. Unfortunately, her lovers have wanted to keep it a secret to avoid being labeled as gay. However, she notes that being more secretive as a famous person does have its advantages.
“My last two boyfriends had also never dated a trans woman before. And the interesting thing is that when you are famous, you want [your partner] to be really discreet,” she went on. “In the past, guys have been like, ‘Don’t tell anybody’ and now I’m like, ‘Don’t tell anybody.'”
Trans Women are Women
Being careful makes sense as a famous person in the public eye, but her boyfriend’s silence is due to social stigma. Although Cox is a beautiful woman, some people resist seeing her as such.
“But the issue over the years for me as a trans woman and other trans women is that the womanhood of trans women is often disavowed. A lot of people don’t see trans women as women,” she said. “So, the men that are attracted to women, people think they are gay. And if you are a straight man, you don’t want people to think you’re gay. So, a lot of the times they don’t want to disclose or want to let anyone know.”
Cox says it may take famous, articulate men to help break down the walls. However, she has found most men aren’t exactly “articulate” on dating trans women. If such a man comes forward, she’ll have him on her show.
See Laverne Cox on the Ellen Show below:
Laverne Cox & Disclosure
Recently, Laverne Cox executive produced a GLAAD award-nominated documentary called “Disclosure” for Netflix. Notably, transgender people make up most of the cast and crew for the documentary.
Disclosure examines transgender and non-conforming gender representations in the media. Historically, they have been depicted in a transphobic, biased, and negative light.
Problematic stereotypes and tropes are almost always the rule. Over decades, they shaped how society views transgender people and how transgender people see themselves.
“So you wonder why there is so much discrimination against trans people when there’s all these kinds of images over decades,” Cox says.
Looking at Transgender Depictions with a Critical Eye
Notably, depictions of transgender people have existed in film and television since the beginning. For example, even when cross-dressing was illegal, silent films featured men dressing in women’s clothing.
Later, transgender people were often depicted as psychopaths in films like Psycho, Silence of the Lambs, and Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.
For Cox, she wants people to continue loving art, but with a critical eye about problems caused by such stereotypes. Problematic portrayals are “an educational opportunity,” she said. “I’m not a fan of chucking art to the side. I’m a fan of critically engaging with it and having conversations.”
Cox discusses Disclosure with Kelly and Ryan below:
The Visibility Paradox
Today, while transgender visibility in the media is mainstream, she acknowledges, “a few people are elevated, and the majority of people are still struggling.”
Even as a glamorous celebrity loved by millions, she has been the victim of transphobic attacks. For gender non-conforming people, oppression and violence are generally expected as part of everyday survival.
In November 2020, she and a friend were walking in a Los Angeles park when a man “aggressively asked for the time.” Then, he abruptly questioned if she was a male or female. Cox was wearing a mask and hoodie at the time.
It led to a shocking confrontation, and Cox called 911. After the man hit her male friend, he left. The sudden assault was a reminder that simply being in public can be dangerous for trans people. It’s totally unacceptable and must change.
“It’s not safe in the world,” she said. “I don’t like to think about that a lot, but it is the truth; it’s not safe if you’re a trans person. Obviously, I know this well.”
In an Instagram video, she reminded herself she wasn’t to blame for simply walking in a park.
“When these things happen, it’s not your fault,” Cox said in the video. “It’s not your fault that people are not cool with you existing in the world. We have a right to walk in the park.”
Most Americans Don’t Know a Trans Person
According to a GLAAD study, 84% of Americans don’t personally know someone who is transgender. Consequently, their impressions come from the media, even though 1.5 million Americans identify as trans.
As transgender people become more visible, they suffer a backlash from ignorant, bigoted people.
Director Sam Feder refers to it as the “paradox of visibility.” Over recent years, we saw murderous hate crimes and a legislative assault over such things as using the bathroom.
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Overcoming a Climate of Hate
Hours ago, the Human Rights Campaign posted about the third violent death of a transgender or gender non-conforming person in 2021. Bianca “Muffin” Bankz, a Black transgender woman in her early 30s was killed in Atlanta, Georgia.
HRC recorded 44 deaths of transgender and gender non-conforming people in 2020, “more than in any year since we began tracking this violence in 2013,” they report.
Donald Trump led an assault on transgender people, from a transgender military ban by Tweet to an attempt to roll back health care protections.
Nevertheless, the Supreme Court upheld the 1964 Civil Rights Act protections for gay, lesbian, and transgender employees from discrimination based on sex. Days later, a federal judge blocked the Trump administration from rolling back health protections.
Laverne Cox has Hope for the Future
Five days after the Supreme Court ruling, Disclosure premiered. Cox said it felt “divine,” given the context of the day, Juneteenth, a black trans lives matter movement, and the first transgender civil rights case won at the nation’s highest court.
To keep progress going, Cox says changing negative stereotypes in the media requires more transgender people behind the scenes.
“We need more trans folks working behind the scenes – directing, producing, below the line positions, just more,” Cox added. “And more representation in positions of power.”
We look forward to Laverne Cox’s new podcast and wish her much success and joy in the new year. May the year ahead advance equality and understanding for all our transgender brothers and sisters.
See more about Disclosure below:
Featured images: Screenshots via YouTube