‘Orange Is the New Black’ Star Laverne Cox’s One Wish for America

By Anja Crowder

Aug 17, 2014 12:27pm

Laverne Cox, star of the Netflix hit series “Orange Is the New Black,” is breaking barriers for the transgender community both on and off the screen. In an interview for “This Week”, she shared her one wish for America with ABC’s Byron Pitts.

“One thing I would wish for America…[are] spaces where we have real gender freedom, where we…create spaces of gender self-determination, where we don’t police people’s genders or we don’t tell people that they’re not supposed to act a certain way,” Cox said.

Cox has spent her whole life dealing with discrimination and harassment. Growing up in Mobile, Ala., she was constantly bullied for her gender expression, she said.

SEE: Photos of “Orange is the New Black” Actress Laverne Cox

“I was bullied and I internalized a lot of shame about who I was as a child,” Cox said. “Bullied because I didn’t act the way someone assigned male at birth was supposed to act. And so I was called sissy, I was called the F-word. I was chased home from school practically every day. There was always a kid or groups of kids who wanted to beat me up,” she said.

Overwhelmed by social persecution, she attempted suicide at an early age, Cox said.

“The suicide attempt happened when I was in sixth grade and I was having all these feelings about other boys. And I didn’t want to live,” Cox said.

Hollywood blockbusters and hit TV series like “Orange Is the New Black” are shining a new spotlight on transgender rights, starring characters like her own that Cox says many in the trans community can relate to.

READ: Six Questions for Transgender Rights Advocate Mara Keisling.

“So many trans folks have said that they see themselves reflected in this character,” Cox said. “Having your story told validates your experience. It’s like, ‘I’m not alone anymore, and maybe I’ll be OK.”

Cox has helped raise awareness and give voice to members of the trans community, pushing forward this newest battle on the civil rights front.

“I’m really, really happy that I survived,” she said. “If I didn’t survive, I wouldn’t be here today.”

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