North Texas Daily

Laverne Cox shares personal story, insight and advocacy

Laverne Cox shares personal story, insight and advocacy

Laverne Cox shares personal story, insight and advocacy
April 08
01:39 2015

Iyana Edouard / Staff Writer

There she stood, flipping her long hair in a bright green dress and smiling while sharing all the ups and downs of her life. Nearly every audience member stood and applauded the moment Laverne Cox’s foot hit the stage.

UNT students have been eagerly awaiting Cox’s lecture since the Fine Arts Series announced it in February, and finally, after being booked to speak nearly one year ago and rescheduling the event, she was welcome by an anxious crowd.

“I’m expecting to hear a lot about empowerment, overcoming struggles, and adversity,” psychology junior Oyinda Adebo said while waiting for the lecture to begin.

Cox is best known for her role as Sophia on the Netflix original show Orange is the New Black. She is the first transgender woman to be on the cover of TIME Magazine, the first transgender woman to be nominated for an Emmy, and the first transgender woman to produce a television show and movie. Cox has traveled to speak at universities and colleges all around the world to share her story.

“I stand before you this evening a proud African American transgender woman,” she said.

Cox spoke about her life and journey through transition. She described her experiences being bullied almost every day from preschool to high school, because of the way she expressed her gender. For most of her childhood she dealt with name calling and being shamed by classmates, members of her church, her teachers, and even her own mother.

Though it took awhile for her mother to understand and accept what being transgender was, especially during Cox’ s transition process after college, she is now quick to correct those who use the wrong gender pronoun when talking about Cox.

During her lecture, Cox continually encouraged love, empathy, and understanding. She also gave chilling statistics about the high suicide and homicide rates for transgender women, particularly transgender black women, to make the audience understand how far hate can go.

“What would it be like if society did not play the gender police?” she said. “Calling a transgender woman a man is an act of violence. But when people look at me and can tell I’m transgender it’s a beautiful thing, because being transgender is beautiful.”

Cox’s love for dance was what ultimately saved her life during her childhood. Women like Sojurner Truth, Brene Brown, Judith Butler, and Simone de Beauvior, whom she quoted during her speech, provided inspiration and motivation for her own self acceptance.

“It was the first time in my life my gender expression was celebrated and validated,” she said.

Students applauded and shouted as she shared stories about her personal life and how she feels about Beyonce.

“It wasn’t what I was expecting,” fashion merchandising junior Viola Person said. “She talked about so much. I like how she included everyone. It was never specifically targeted to just one group of people.”

A projection of a live Twitter feed of #LaverneUNT tweets hovered above floor seating, and became a worldwide trending topic.

Featured Image: Actress Laverne Cox speaks about her journey as a transgender woman at the Coliseum on Tuesday night. Cox was originally scheduled to speak in February, but the ice storms set the event back more than a month. Photo by Rhiannon Saegert – News Editor

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