After public outcry over the exclusion of Laverne Cox from Time magazine’s exclusive 100 Most Influential People edition in April, Laverne Cox was given her own cover with a caption that read “The Transgender Tipping Point: America’s next civil rights frontier.”
Time reader polls are used to figure out which candidates to include on the 100 Most Influential list, and while not everyone can be included, Cox received a noticeably high number of votes.
Cox used her cover as a platform to discuss various hurdles that transgendered people face in their day-to-day lives. Her role as transgendered inmate Sophia Burset in the Netflix series Orange is the New Black has brought her a number of awards and recognitions for being the first transgender black woman to have a leading role on a mainstream U.S. television show. Despite her achievements, the magazine failed to include her in the final list. Cox made no negative public remarks about being left out. Now, weeks later, Time has decided to include her on the cover, a move that has given her more media attention that the single column the Top 100 list gives each person.
“A lot of it is just listening to transgender people and taking the lead from trans folks,” Cox told Time. “The reality is that I don’t represent the entirety of the trans-community. There’s multiple experiences and multiple relationships to one’s identity and so it’s really about listening to individuals in terms of how they define themselves and describe themselves and taking people at their word.”
She also discussed how it was growing up in Mobile, Ala., where she dressed feminine and was subsequently harassed and bullied. Cox and her twin brother were raised by their mother, never knowing their father. Cox turned to dancing and creative outlets to express herself, although, she says, she was “majorly bullied.”
“Be willing to let go of what preconceptions we might have, about people who are different from us and about taking people on their own terms,” Cox said.
Cox’s appearance on the cover of the magazine was the only reaction Time had to the widespread criticism of her original exclusion from the Top 100 list. This shined a spotlight on the newest social movement in today’s society, and that’s the acceptance of transgendered people, which for some may be a stretch from same-sex marriage acceptance.
“I think the trans-movement and the LBGTQ-movement in general really has to be a social justice movement where we look at issues of race and class and phobia in general,” Cox said.