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
23:15 2015

Iyana Edouard / Staff Writer

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

“I’m expecting to hear a lot about empowerment, overcoming struggles, and adversity,” psychology junior Oyinda Adebo said, 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, and since her career as an actress and a transgender advocate has flourished. 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 entire 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 her 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 and transgender black women, in order 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 in beautiful.”

Cox’s love for dancing was what ultimately saved her life during her childhood. Women, like Sojurner Truth, Brene Brown, Judith Butler, and Simone de Beauvior, whom all 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 a she shared stories about her personal life so deeply, that UNT now knows her whole family’s name and how she personally feels about Beyonce.

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

Cox’s admitted she laughs and pokes fun at her journey because it was not an easy one, but there she was flipping her long flowy hair, standing tall in a tight green dress, and smiling while sharing all the ups and downs of her life. Nearly every audience member stood and applauded the moment her foot hit the stage, and she raised a heart with her hands expressing she felt all the love UNT was giving her.

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 in the Coliseum on Tuesday night as a part of the Fine Arts Series. Photo by Rhiannon Saegert – News Editor

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