Alisha Harris, The Black Bear – “I am not just one thing and neither are you.” Laverne Cox announced as she first stepped up to the stage to face a crowd of 1,800 fans and supporters.
Laverne Cox is widely known as the transgender actress that appeared on VH1’s “TRANSForm Me,” “I Work For Diddy” and now seen on Comedy and Drama series “Orange is the New Black”.
Cox is the first transgender woman of color to have a leading role on a mainstream scripted television show. Time Magazine named her the “4th Most Influential Fiction Character or 2013” for her role as Sophia Burset.
In October of last year, Grace Chang, president of SAC, decided to bring Laverne Cox to Missouri State after the numerous emails SAC was receiving about her.
Chang also paired up with the LGBT Resource Center and GLO (Gay and Lesbian Community Center) to split the cost of booking Juanita K. Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts.
Chang’s goal of bringing Cox to Missouri State was to change the student body’s perspective of gender. “We see gender as a two-sided thing boy, girl, that’s it; and I wanted people to take away the fact that not everyone is just one thing.”
Cox told her story of growing up in the south with a single parent and being a member of an African Methodist church. Her mother, who was a teacher, taught Cox and her twin brother about racial oppression and resistance.
Cox spoke on the difficulties she faced in her life like being bullied from preschool and up because of her gender behavior. She used the term “Gender Policing” which is described as if you’re a male you’re attracted to females and if you’re a female you’re attracted to males.
During her speech, Cox quoted several women that she was influenced by who helped her through the journey of becoming a transgender. Simone de Beauvoir’s quote “One is not born a woman but rather becomes one” helped shaped Cox’s view of gender roles.
Cox revealed a side of a story that was worst than just being bullied and seeing a therapist as a child. She told the audience how as she got older it became harder to express who she really was.
Being shameful was something that was a negative factor during Cox’s journey, along with her attempt of suicide.
“41 percent of the LGBT community commits suicide because of bullying and being afraid of shame,” according to Cox.
Cox ends her story with a heart-warming message to the audience, “You are loved, remember you are not alone.”