Time is the new black. Actress and transgender activist Laverne Cox is on the cover of the latest issue of Time magazine, stunning in a simple photo.
The Orange Is the New Black star is accompanied on the cover by the lines, "The Transgender Tipping Point: America's next civil rights frontier." Inside the issue, Cox discusses her upbringing and her own experience with her sexuality and gender identification. She stands against a neutral background, posing in a figure-hugging navy Herve Leger dress and a pair of black ankle-strap heels with her blonde hair worn parted down the middle and in loose waves.
"I was very feminine and I was really bullied, majorly bullied," the actress, who plays the transgender inmate Sophia on OITNB, told Time. "My third grade teacher called my mom and said 'Your son is going to end up in New Orleans wearing a dress.' Up until that point I just thought that I was a girl and that there was no difference between girls and boys. I think in my imagination I thought that I would hit puberty and I would start turning into a girl."
"Going to a therapist and the fear of God being placed in me about ending up in New Orleans wearing a dress, that was a profoundly shaming moment for me. I associated it with being some sort of degenerate, with not being successful. My mother was a teacher. She was grooming my brother and me to be successful, accomplished people," Cox continued, referencing her twin brother M. Lamar Cox, who made appearances in OITNB with pre-transition flashbacks of her character. "I didn’t associate being trans, or wearing a dress, with that, or wanting to be a girl with being successful. So it’s something I just started to push down. I wanted to be famous, I wanted to perform. Those things I really, really wanted more than anything else."
The transgender equality activist got her chance with her breakout role in the celebrated Netflix series. Her Time cover comes after she received the fifth highest number of votes in an online poll for the publication's 100 Most Influential People list. Backlash ensued when she wasn't featured on the list.
"What a wonderful bday present!" Cox wrote on Facebook after the cover was revealed. "Yes today is my birthday and I am on the cover of @TIME magazine. I realize this is way bigger than me and about a tipping point in our nation's history where it is no [longer] acceptable for trans lives to be stigmatized, ridiculed, criminalized and disregarded. This is for my trans siblings out there and for anyone who has ever been told that who you know yourself to be at your core is not legitimate. You are who you know yourselves to be. #girlslikeus #whereislavernecox #lavernehive"
For more from Cox, pick up the June 9 issue of Time.