It's not as though we needed another reason to love the Orange Is the New Black star, but Laverne Cox's TIME interview (in print and video form) has given us even more to love. In it, she discusses everything from being bullied in her childhood to pushing back against unfair treatment of trans people as an adult. And to just make everything more amazing, she's also now the first openly trans person to appear on the cover of TIME.
The interview doesn't shy away from big issues. Cox brings up everything from the need for intersectional analysis of race, class, and gender to the high murder rate and high rates of homelessness for trans people. She also discusses painful aspects of her own story, including a suicide attempt when she was in the sixth grade. As a young person, she remembers she had very little support. "I associated it [wanting to be a girl] with being some sort of degenerate, with not being successful," she remembers. "So it’s something I just started to push down. I wanted to be famous, I wanted to perform."
Today, of course, Cox is famous, and her performance in the role of Sophia in Orange is the New Black has been celebrated by fans and critics. But as this interview makes clear, her path to stardom has been incredibly difficult.
The interview is also notable for what it doesn't do, namely it doesn't involve invasive questions about genitalia or seek to sensationalize Cox's life at all. As many people, including Cox herself, have noted over the course of the past year, the way in which the media treats trans people often leaves a lot to be desired. But thanks to celebrities like Cox and author Janet Mock working to call attention to these issues, it seems things might finally be starting to change.
In other words, even more reasons for us to love her.
Cox herself was denied a spot in TIME's most recent "100 Most Influential People" list despite the fact that 92 percent of voters thought she belonged there. But it seems Cox will have the last laugh now that she's become the first openly trans — and quite probably the first trans person, openly or not — to appear on the cover of the magazine.
So really, it's no wonder we love her. Laverne Cox has not only overcome so many obstacles to get where she is, she just continues to work to make the world better for trans people who haven't been as lucky. She's working on a documentary about CeCe McDonald, a trans woman housed in a men's prison after defending herself from a transphobic attack. Cox even picked McDonald up from prison. And as we've seen in this TIME interview, she also continuously talks about the issues facing trans people, raising awareness and being fabulous as she does it.
Keep on being awesome, Laverne Cox!