Laverne Cox: 'I feel more included than I ever have as a trans woman of color in the LGBTQ community'


Laverne Cox feels as though the LGBTQ community has "shifted" in recent years when it comes to the inclusion of trans people and people of color, and she feels "more included than ever" before.

I recently sat down with the trailblazing "Orange Is The New Black" actress at Magnum New York's special event with GLAAD to talk about what Pride Month represents to her and the impact that her portrayal of Sophia Burset has had on society's understanding of the trans community.

SEE ALSO: Danielle Brooks talks 'Orange Is the New Black' and Aziz Ansari breaking character on 'Master of None'

"To be real, I haven't always thought that Pride was for me as a trans woman," Cox explained. "I haven't always felt that, but since 'Orange' and being the grand marshal of the Pride parade three years ago, I feel like the LGBTQ community has shifted. I remember that year, in 2014, I really wanted to talk about people of color and trans people being more included in the LGBTQ community."

"Even though there is work that still needs to be done, I do see so many more organizations trying to do the work to be more trans-inclusive and include more people of color [in their messaging]," she went on. "Can they do better? Absolutely, but there's always room for improvement, and I feel more included than I ever have as a trans woman of color in the LGBTQ community."

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Cox points to collaborations like Magnum and GLAAD's for Pride Month as important moments in which mainstream corporate America "says that these lives matter" and they want to "support" the trans community.

"It sets an example for everyone," Cox explained.

That being said, one doesn't have to look very far to see that the trans community is still under attack. Whether it's the current presidential administration rescinding the so-called "bathroom bill" that protected transgender students or the continued murders of trans women of color, there's still a ton of work to do.

One of the ways in which Cox and GLAAD are working to increase the acceptance of the trans community is through increased, accurate portrayals of trans men and women in the media. As Cox has seen first-hand from her portrayal of Sophia on "Orange," representation in the media is invaluable when it comes to changing the ways that people think about certain people and communities.

"After our first season, I got a tweet from this woman who wrote a blog about how 'Laverne Cox from Orange changed my mind about trans people,'" she remembered. "She wrote a blog about how she thought trans women transitioned just for sex, but then she saw my character on TV and got to know who I was. I don't know if that would've happened if a non-trans person was playing my part. I think that it clicked more with her because I am a real person living this experience."

She recalled another instance after the second season of "OITNB" when a transgender woman told her that watching the episode about Sophia's origin story inspired her to come out to her wife, who watched with her and accepted her for who she was.

"This is real!" Cox said. "People's lives are really changing, and there are so many more stories like that that I've heard. Everything I said about the images created in the media can change people's lives. I'm a witness to that."

And it's not just about representation in front of the camera, either. Cox is eager to develop her own scripted show, as it's "just as important" to have trans people behind the camera writing, directing and producing media to ensure that these stories are told accurately and with care.

Celebrities celebrating Pride Month:

Season 5 of "Orange Is The New Black" is available to stream on Netflix now.

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