Laverne Cox: Gender Bender


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How has the overnight success of Orange is the New Black changed your life?
My entire life is different. It’s been wild—people recognize me when I walk down the street, in bars and restaurants. It’s a good thing and I’m really excited. Right now I’m doing a college tour, speaking engagements, and the anti-bullying Spirits Day, which raises awareness against ending bullying against the LGBT community and different groups.

Are there plans for your own organization?
Not at this point, no – but that’s such a really good idea. At this point, I really want to listen and hear the community about what their needs are and what they’re experiencing. A lot of it for me is about staying connected to the community as much as possible. I have a platform and voice so I want to see what I can do.

What can you tell us about your worst experience with bullying?
When I grew up in Alabama, I was called a sissy, a fag and kids basically wanted to beat me up every day. There was a time in middle school when some kids hit my brother and I with drumsticks and a parent from the school saw it. We knew we could never tell our mother because she would blame us and question why we weren’t fighting back, but the principal called her. It was really awful and painful.

How supportive was your twin brother through the transitioning process?
He’s amazing. It’s never been an issue for him. He loves me and wants me to be happy. He gets it. He’s a musician with a beautiful voice and an absolutely wonderful performer.