Critically acclaimed transgender actress Laverne Cox travels to inspire and share her story of success
Laverne Cox, critically acclaimed actress who plays Sophia Burset in the Netflix series Orange is the New Black, will be speaking to students in Toronto on March 24.
The talk is part of the annual Celebrating Women’s Voices and Expression Against Oppression event series organized by student unions at Toronto universities and colleges.
“It’s an incredible opportunity to host Laverne Cox who simultaneously makes room for challenges and celebrations and invites folk into both,” says Michelle Pettis, Community Action Centre (CAC) co-ordinator for the Student Association of George Brown College (GBC) .
Cox is the first transgender woman of color to have a leading role on a mainstream scripted television series, was named the fourth most influential fictional character of 2013 by Time Magazine, and was also a recipient of the Dorian rising-star award for her work in Orange Is The New Black.
“The George Brown College community needs to be talking about misogyny and trans-misogyny, but where do you start?” says Pettis about why the Laverne Cox talk is so important.
As an LGBTQ advocate, Cox told Time Magazine that she had been bullied and harassed for appearing feminine while growing up in Mobile, Alabama. It was in New York City where she came out as transgender and took up acting.
Cox told Time Magazine that she started embracing androgyny in high school in hopes of a compromise in terms of gender. It didn’t turn out to be any better for her when it came to perception or reception from her peers, but she does believe it got her to where she is today.
With all this in mind, the CAC decided to become involved in the upcoming event, Laverne Cox: Ain’t I a Woman? My Journey to Womanhood tour.
Discussing the intersectionality of Cox’s identities, Pettis adds that the event will offer “an entry point to shine a spotlight on transgender women of colour leadership, and a spotlight on the conversations we need to share with each other.”
“Underrepresented and underserved, through Cox, the event also feeds and validates trans* folks’ voices of resistance and self-definition. Cox stewards stories of struggle with care, both hers and those of others including trans youth, and works hard to mobilize her platform for the benefit of all,” explains Pettis.
Pettis says the tour is proof that Cox thinks it’s important to have conversations in privileged spaces.
“It’s great that GTA schools have collaborated to engage students, push the conversation and shift the culture when it comes to addressing gender violence with this event,” says Pettis.
While advance tickets are sold out, there will be tickets available at the door the night of the event. Doors will open at 6 p.m. with the lecture beginning at 6:30 p.m..
“Yes, Laverne Cox is on a hit TV show, but we can be more than just her audience, we too can be actors in the fight for change,” says Pettis.
With files from Tina Todaro.