As a breakout star of Orange Is the New Black and the first transgender person to be nominated for an Emmy, Laverne Cox is arguably one of the most recognizable faces in the LGBT — and especially trans — community. She represents a lot of things to a lot of people: times changing, a greater acceptance of otherness, and the broadening spectrum of faces represented in the entertainment we all consume. For one little girl, Laverne Cox is just one thing: someone like her.
M. is a 7-year-old transgender girl. Her mother Marlo Mack writes about their experiences on her blog as Gender Mom. (She also has a podcast called How to Be a Girl.) In a recent post, she talks about M.'s experience meeting Cox.
While Mack admits her daughter is not familiar with the actress's work — "Orange Is the New Black isn’t really appropriate viewing for seven year olds," she writes — Mack has shown her daughter Cox's Time cover, which declared it the "transgender tipping point."
"I had shown M. the photo of Ms. Cox on the cover of Time when it came out last year, so M. had a vague idea that this was someone important who was also transgender," she writes. "But I don’t think she really got it until we showed up for the event."
Earlier this year, Cox was speaking at an event; M. and her mom were in the audience.
"Most of the speech went over [M. and a friend's] heads," Mack says of the speech. "But here’s the message that I hope got through to them: Here is someone who is talented and smart and famous and beloved by the multitudes — and she’s also like you."
It was what happened after the speech that's special. M. and her mother were invited to a small reception following the speech where M. was on a mission to meet her hero. She staked out a place by the door and, like a seasoned professional, she waited.
Laverne waved her Hollywood wave at the crowd, thanked us graciously, and then looked down at the little girl blocking her path.
"Well, hello," she said.
"I’m M.," my daughter said.
Laverne smiled down at her. "Hello, M."
"And I’m trans," M. said.
I don’t think Ms. Cox saw that coming. The crowd around me gasped their approval ("Did you hear what that little girl said?"). Laverne seemed at a bit of a loss.
But it's what Cox did next that really touches your heart. As she bent down to hug M., she said: "Remember, honey, transgender is beautiful."
You crying yet? Yeah, us too.