The powerful reason Laverne Cox posed nude for Allure magazine.


In a sultry black-and-white photograph, Laverne Cox reclines, all taut, silken skin and long hair. So far, so Hollywood.

However, the shoot, for U.S. magazine Allure, almost never happened because Cox, a transgender actress most famous for appearing on hit Netflix show Orange is the New Black, was reluctant to bare all and refused the invitation.

“I said no initially, thought about it, and said no again,” she said in the Allure article. “But I’m a black transgender woman. I felt this could be really powerful for the communities that I represent.”

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Cox was right. She’s just been named among Time’s 100 Most Influential People for 2015.

“Black women are not often told that we’re beautiful unless we align with certain standards. Trans women certainly are not told we’re beautiful,” she told Allure.

“Seeing a black transgender woman embracing and loving everything about her body might be inspiring for some folks. There’s a beauty in the things we think are imperfect. It sounds very cliche, but it’s true.”

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Cox was bullied as a child in Mobile, Alabama. When she was in third grade, a teacher saw the little boy fanning himself, Southern belle style, with a fan. A letter was sent home to Cox’s mother warning her that her son would “end up in New Orleans wearing a dress,” Cox told Time.

It was, Cox said, “profoundly shaming.” She attempted suicide in sixth grade.

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Cox’s life began to turn around when she enrolled in a performing arts high school then moved to New York City to become an actor. She scored the role of Sophia, a transgender woman jailed for credit-card fraud to fund her sex-change, in Netflix’s Orange is the New Black.

She became the first openly transgender person to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy for her portrayal.