In an era where mainstream media seems to care more about genitalia than access to healthcare, and more about misgendering than respecting identity, it is emotional to witness Laverne Cox on the cover of TIME.
Last month, Twitter was abuzz as online communities gathered to vote in TIME Magazine’s “TIME 100” poll. Laverne Cox, transgender activist and star of the hit Netflix series, “Orange is the New Black,” was one of the most talked about individuals to land in the top 100. This is especially true when she surpassed Justin Bieber for the number 1 spot for several hours. The day of the release, people searched for all of the incredible black women making the top 100. We saw a list of influential trailblazers and possibility models: Beyoncé, Kerry Washington, Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe, Thuli Madonsela, Serena Williams, Ory Okolloh, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and Ertharin Cousin.
But someone was missing: Laverne Cox.
People were not pleased.
Readers were stunned at what appeared to be the transgender actress being snubbed—something that only reinforced the media’s value of transgender people.
Today, in a groundbreaking turn of events, however, Cox has graced the cover of TIME Magazine! In “The Transgender Tipping Point,” Cox speaks with TIME about personal happiness, equality, transgender rights, why genitalia is not synonymous with identity, and so much more.
Having a black transgender woman on the cover of TIME Magazine is a watershed moment—one that speaks to increasing visibility and progress. And having someone like Cox, who resonates with millions, on the cover allows issues like the intersections of race and class, workplace discrimination, policing of transgender women, bullying, suicide, and improper placement of transgender women in men’s prisons to be at the forefront, instead of discussions related to assignments-at-birth.
Cox continues to shed light on the multifaceted issues in the transgender community. She discusses how listening to transgender people is essential to understanding their needs and desires:
“The reality is I don’t represent the entirety of the trans community. There are multiple experiences and multiple relationships to one’s identity, and so it is really about listening to individuals in terms of how they define themselves and describe themselves and taking people at their word. Being willing to let go of what preconceptions we might have about people who are different from us and taking people on their own terms.”
Check out the behind the scenes coverage.
In an era where mainstream media seems to care more about genitalia than access to healthcare, and more about misgendering than respecting identity, it is emotional to witness Cox gracing the cover of TIME. Yet again, black transgender women are blazing trails and refusing to let others control their own narrative.
From Janet Mock’s “Redefining Realness” to Laverne Cox on the cover of TIME, we see #GirlsLikeThem continuing to define their paths and bringing others along the way.
Preston Mitchum is a regular contributor to Role Reboot. He is a civil rights advocate and legal writing professor in Washington, DC. Preston has written for The Atlantic, theGrio, Huffington Post, Ebony.com, and Think Progress. Follow him on Twitter @PrestonMitchum.