Laverne Cox Changes the Narrative Around LGBTQ Communities

Jenelle Riley

By her own admission, Laverne Cox has seen many dreams come true over the past three years. “I’ve been on magazine covers, I’ve been nominated for an Emmy, I won an Emmy as a producer,” she notes. “And I’m out of student-loan debt!”

But most important for the star of Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black” and the upcoming “Rocky Horror Picture Show” on Fox: She is seeing change in the world.

Warwick Saint for Variety

“So many people have been inspired to live their truth as trans people, and so many people have begun to think differently about who transgender people are.”

Cox does not shy away from using her visibility to be an advocate for the issue. That includes her involvement with the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), an advocacy group that strives to respond to and prevent violence against members of LGBTQ communities. Cox says she is impressed by how NCAVP is working to raise awareness and highlight numerous issues affecting LGBTQ people.

“They look at jobs, at homelessness, all these systemic factors that put LGBTQ people in harm’s way,” she notes. “Many trans women are forced into sex work because so many people do not want to hire us.”

Cox notes that “over 40% of all homeless youth identify as LGBTQ, and far too many of them find themselves homeless and choosing sex work just to survive. That puts trans people at greater risk to experience violence.”

NCAVP publishes two annual reports, LGBTQ Hate Violence and LGBTQ Intimate Partner Violence. The organization also lobbied to make sure protections for LGBTQ people were added to the Violence Against Women Act; President Obama signed the re-authorized act in 2013.

“That means if you are an LGBTQ person who has experienced violence, particularly intimate-partner violence, you now legally have access to rape crisis and housing services,” Cox explains.

“What’s so exciting about the work NCAVP does is it’s also about changing the narrative of who LGBTQ people are,” she continues. “And when we begin to change the narrative, then we reduce violence against those communities. And so much of that narrative comes from data collection. For years they’ve been the only agency tracking violence against the LGBTQ community. It is vital, vital work the NCAVP is doing to change the narrative, to change policy, to change lives.”

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