Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Indiewire logo
Coming Attractions: 'Boy Meets Girl,' An Unlikely Twist On The Teen Rom-Com Coming Attractions: 'Boy Meets Girl,' An Unlikely Twist On The Teen Rom-Com John Waters Will Show a 'Sequel' to ‘Pink Flamingos’ in January -- Starring Kids John Waters Will Show a 'Sequel' to ‘Pink Flamingos’ in January -- Starring Kids 'Mommy' and Me: Why Xavier Dolan's Film Is This Writer's 'Boyhood' 'Mommy' and Me: Why Xavier Dolan's Film Is This Writer's 'Boyhood' Listen To The Entire Soundtrack For Xavier Dolan's 'Mommy' Listen To The Entire Soundtrack For Xavier Dolan's 'Mommy' The 10 Best Tina Belcher Moments On 'Bob's Burgers' The 10 Best Tina Belcher Moments On 'Bob's Burgers' Let These Wise Words Meryl Streep Lives By Usher You Into September Let These Wise Words Meryl Streep Lives By Usher You Into September The 5 Best Gay and Lesbian Romantic Comedies On Netflix The 5 Best Gay and Lesbian Romantic Comedies On Netflix Why 'The 10 Year Plan' Is One Movie You Should NOT See at Outfest Why 'The 10 Year Plan' Is One Movie You Should NOT See at Outfest 14 Films On Netflix To Watch At Your 2014 Pride Party 14 Films On Netflix To Watch At Your 2014 Pride Party Reader's Poll: The 25 Most Important LGBT Television Series Reader's Poll: The 25 Most Important LGBT Television Series 'Game of Thrones,' Sex and HBO: Where Did It Go Wrong For TV's Sexual Pioneers? 'Game of Thrones,' Sex and HBO: Where Did It Go Wrong For TV's Sexual Pioneers? On Zac Efron, Homoeroticism and Gay Pandering: How 'Neighbors' Is The Gayest Studio Movie of the Summer On Zac Efron, Homoeroticism and Gay Pandering: How 'Neighbors' Is The Gayest Studio Movie of the Summer EXCLUSIVE: Actor Daniel Franzese Writes a Touching Coming Out Letter To His Iconic 'Mean Girls' Character Damian EXCLUSIVE: Actor Daniel Franzese Writes a Touching Coming Out Letter To His Iconic 'Mean Girls' Character Damian Amber Heard and Johnny Depp Are Officially Engaged But We Need To Talk About Bisexuality Amber Heard and Johnny Depp Are Officially Engaged But We Need To Talk About Bisexuality Read Sally Field's Impassioned Open Letter About Her Gay Son Read Sally Field's Impassioned Open Letter About Her Gay Son Watch: Travis Mathews' Sexy, Very NSFW Doc 'In Their Room: Berlin' Is Now Streaming Online Watch: Travis Mathews' Sexy, Very NSFW Doc 'In Their Room: Berlin' Is Now Streaming Online Why Sexy Gay Love Story 'Free Fall' Is Not Just a German 'Brokeback Mountain' Why Sexy Gay Love Story 'Free Fall' Is Not Just a German 'Brokeback Mountain' Watch a Teenage Boy Find a Stack of Gay Porn In Adam Baran's Adorable Short Film 'Jackpot' Watch a Teenage Boy Find a Stack of Gay Porn In Adam Baran's Adorable Short Film 'Jackpot' Ranking the House Down:
 The Queens of RuPaul’s Drag Race, from Worst to Best (Part Six: The Top 10!) Ranking the House Down:
 The Queens of RuPaul’s Drag Race, from Worst to Best (Part Six: The Top 10!) Ranking the House Down:
 The Queens of RuPaul’s Drag Race, from Worst to Best (Part Five) Ranking the House Down:
 The Queens of RuPaul’s Drag Race, from Worst to Best (Part Five)

10 Teachable Moments From Laverne Cox's Incredibly Inspiring Talk At WorldPride

By Regan Reid | /Bent June 26, 2014 at 10:38AM

Laverne Cox had a lot to say last night in Toronto.
0
Laverne Cox from "Orange Is the New Black"
Laverne Cox from "Orange Is the New Black"

As part of the World Pride celebrations that are taking place in Toronto this year, TIFF and the Inside Out LGBT Film Festival are hosting the Bent Lens: Pride on Screen series. One of the many great offerings of this program was a live Q&A with Orange is the New Black star, trans advocate and TIME cover woman, Laverne Cox. The “In Conversation With...” event was held at the TIFF Bell Lightbox on July 25 and was hosted by none other than Wilson Cruz (GLAAD national spokesperson and loved by all 90s TV fans for his role as Rickie Vasquez on My So Called Life).


Here are 10 highlights from an event that was brimming with insight, laughs and “teachable moments.”

On how growing up in Mobile, Alabama has shaped who she is today:

“We were poor, raised by a single mother, I was bullied—that part was hard. Being poor was hard, being black in Alabama is deep. A lot of that was difficult,” she said. “The funny thing is, I always feel like I was in Mobile, but I was never of Mobile. I was always in my imagination.” Cox said she spent most of her childhood dancing and performing, and escaping through television. “I understand now that there was a lot of trauma and a lot of shame and that I did not have the tools to really deal with that,” she said. “I also disassociated. It was years later that I was able to, in therapy and safe spaces, actually feel the pain that I didn't have the facility to feel as a child. It was deeply, deeply painful. I still have tremendous amounts of trauma and PTSD around my childhood, where I don't often feel safe. That is a tricky thing to experience now that I'm kind of famous. People running up to me in the street are excited to see me, but I experience someone running up to me on the street as they're attacking me.” 

On culottes:

Cox came out as gay in her junior year of high school. “For me, gay was like, I liked to wear makeup. I started wearing makeup in high school and I started wearing girls clothes, but not dresses and skirts because I had a whole thing about that.” This thing was caused by her third grade teacher, Ms. Ridgeway, who told her mother that her “son” was going to “end up in New Orleans wearing a dress” if she wasn't immediately put into therapy. “For me, what Ms. Ridgeway's prediction was about was me ending up as some sort of degenerate on the streets of New Orleans, homeless and in a dress. That's what I thought in my head. I was a kid. It was like the fear of God was put in me around wearing dresses.” So, instead, she turned to culottes, which kind of look like skirts but aren't. “I was really a big fan of culottes,” she said. “I needed to express my femininity. So in high school I became a frequent shopper at Salvation Army and Goodwill—I would call it my Salvation Army Couture, Salvation Armani, if you will.”

On accepting herself as a trans woman:

After a stint at Indiana University, where she was involved in the LGTB organization on campus and where she broadened her aesthetic choices, Cox transferred to Marymount Manhattan College to do her fine arts degree in dance. “When I moved to New York, I was very much in a gender non-conforming space. I had my shaved head and my lashes and my Salvation Army Couture and then it just sort of evolved and got more feminine. Really, getting to know trans people in the club scene in New York was pivotal for me because I had all these misconceptions about who trans people were—based on the media, based on Ms. Ridgeway's predictions. It wasn't until I actually got to know trans people as people that I was able to accept them and then accept myself.”