This past week, Entertainment Weekly released its first LGBT issue in 15 years and gracing the front cover is the fabulous and marvelous Laverne Cox.
Cox became the first transgender person to land the cover of TIME back in May of 2014 and has since scored a number of other firsts. In July of last year, she became the first openly transgender actress to land an Emmy nomination for her role as Sophia Burset in Netflix’s Orange is the New Black, and in June of this year, it was announced that she would become the first transgender person to appear in wax form in Madame Tussauds.
She is an advocate of LGBT rights and has worked to advance the public understanding of the trans community. When faced with ignorance and misunderstanding, Cox calmly corrects those who have it wrong.
After Vanity Fair unveiled its 22-page cover story introducing Caitlyn Jenner to the world (which hit newsstands this week) people tried to pit Cox and Jenner against each other, as well as focus on Caitlyn’s physical transformation. Cox took to her tumblr to support Caitlyn, as well as point out issues the transgender community faces that cannot be ignored.
She said, “Most trans folks don’t have the privileges Caitlyn and I now have. It is those trans folks we must continue to lift up, get them access to healthcare, jobs, housing, safe streets, safe schools and homes for our young people. We must lift up the stories of those most at risk, statistically trans people of color who are poor and working class.”
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s Injustice at Every Turn survey gathered statistics about discrimination that the transgender community faces. Forty-one percent of respondents reported attempting suicide compared to 1.6 percent of the general population, with higher rates for those who lost a job (55 percent), were harassed or bullied in school (51 percent) and more. These staggering statistics are devastating.
When these issues are brought to light, it also brings a number of ignorant people to the surface. These trolls can be found on the Internet spreading hate anonymously or they can be found on social media pages. It’s important to remember that we can help spread knowledge about these issues and work to dissipate the ignorance of these topics. Study the statistics, read the articles and learn how to talk about these issues. There’s still a long way to go.
Image: Alexei Hay for EW