Transgender actress Laverne Cox graces the cover of Time this week for a story about "The Transgender Tipping Point," just a month after the magazine took heat for failing to include her on its Time 100 list.
Thanks to her work on Netflix's hit Orange Is the New Black — and a now infamous interview with Katie Couric — Cox has emerged as one the most well-known transgender faces in mainstream media. Along with fellow prominent transwomen Carmen Carrera and Janet Mock, Cox has spoken up about the bullying and phobia surrounding the T part of the LGBT movement.
"I realize this is way bigger than me and about a tipping point in our nation's history," Cox wrote on Facebook, "where it is no [longer] acceptable for trans lives to be stigmatized, ridiculed, criminalized and disregarded." She is the first transgender woman to be on the cover of the magazine.
Last month, Cox was left off of the Time 100 list despite being one of the highest vote-getters in online polls. That snub was seen as part of a longer history of ignoring the entire trans community in major media. The backlash lead to the hashtag #whereislavernecox trending nationally. "Laverne Cox’s absence on the list reflects our society’s failure to acknowledge the accomplishments and efforts of transgender women and transgender women of color in general," Kat Hache wrote at The Daily Dot.
Time didn't comment on those criticisms at the time, but it likely played a role in their decision to feature Cox for their cover story about transgender rights. (Time says the story was in the works for months.)
Cox's interview with Time is mostly pushing for respect and understanding. "A lot of it is just listening to transgender people, and taking the lead from trans-folks," she says. "It's really just about listening to individuals in terms of how they define themselves and describe themselves and take them at their word."
Cox also noted the troublingly high rate of violence against transgender people, particularly as it relates to race and class. "The trans-movement and the LGBT movement in generally really has to be a social justice movement where we look at issues of race and class and phobia in general," she said.