Excluded from Time’s Top 100, Laverne Cox Gets Cover Instead

by Winnie McCroy

EDGE Editor

Thursday May 29, 2014

After being excluded from Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People issue in April, transgender actor and activist Laverne Cox found herself on the cover of this month's magazine instead.

"What a wonderful bday present!," said Cox on her Facebook page "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."

In the spring, Cox found herself at the very top of the voting list, under only Arvind Kejriwal, Narendra Modi, Katy Perry and Justin Bieber. So when the "Orange is the New Black" star didn't make the Top 100 list, shit began to hit the proverbial fan.

Jezebel reports that the outcry over Cox's exclusion after she got almost 92 percent of the vote and fifth-highest votes overall from a pool of 88.481 replies, the Internet "went up in flames." Implications of racism and transphobia ran rampant, with Twitter users saying, "Shame on you Time."

BuzzFeed reports when they contacted Time to ask why Cox was not chosen, "Time said it declines to comment on the matter."

Apparently, the wave of Internet vitriol loosened their lips, because six weeks later, Cox can now be found front and center on the cover of Time Magazine. She spoke with Time reporters for the cover story, "The Transgender Tipping Point," in which she talked at length about her childhood, being bullied and harassed for appearing feminine while growing up in Mobile, Ala.

She recounted her mother not letting her take ballet because it was "too gay," running from five kids from the junior high school band who caught her and beat her up with drumsticks, and overhearing her third grade teacher tell her mom, "Your son is going to end up in New Orleans wearing a dress."

Cox told tales of deep shame over her attraction to boys, a suicide attempt in sixth grade and embracing androgyny as she hit puberty. But she also said that thanks to social media, transgender youth today have the support that she never did.

"We are in a place now where more and more trans people want to come forward and say 'This is who I am.' And more trans people are willing to tell their stories," said Cox. "More of us are living visibly and pursuing our dreams visibly, so people can say, 'Oh yeah, I know someone who is trans.' When people have points of reference that are humanizing, that demystifies difference."

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.