Laverne Cox is not shy.
Despite the physical and mental tolls of constantly having to defend herself while being an outspoken activist for the transgender community, the Orange Is the New Black star doesn’t back down -- or avoid topics.
The 31-year-old actress recently sat down with Nylon to talk everything from her looks to bringing down the patriarchy, which meant bringing up Caitlyn Jenner's name unprompted when asked if LGBTQ women need to reclaim what feminine beauty means.
"Years ago I wanted to have the kind of cosmetic facial feminization surgery that Caitlyn [Jenner] has made popular in terms of people’s understanding," she told the magazine. "But I didn't have the money to do it. I'm so blessed and grateful that I didn't because I would look completely different. I've had to learn to love and accept all those things about me that make me distinctly trans: my broad shoulders, my big hands and feet, my deep voice."
How beautiful is it to hear Cox talk about owning what makes her transgender? She does admit, however, that just because she finally feels comfortable owning her looks, that doesn't mean society is coming around as quickly as Hollywood makes it seem.
"When Caitlyn's Vanity Fair cover came out, the language that people were using was deeply misogynist -- she looked beautiful according to very specific standards, and that's deeply problematic," Cox said.
In fact, the focus on women's appearances in general is a concept Cox has been struggling with. "So many people on my social media pages say, 'You're gorgeous,' and who doesn't like hearing that?” she said. "But it made me think: Are people saying I'm beautiful for a trans person? Are they saying I'm beautiful because they couldn't tell I'm trans? I mean, you can find blogs where people are like, 'Laverne Cox is drop-dead gorgeous,' and there are other blogs saying I have 'linebacker proportions.'"
So is it time to change the conversation? If you ask Cox, the answer is a clear yes. "Patriarchy is killing men," she explained. "It's killing men of all races, actually. I've dated so many straight men who would never claim me publicly, and I was witnessing them be torn because they thought everybody's idea of them as men would change and that would be just so devastating for them."
But for now, Cox may need something as simple as a nap. "What I really have to prioritize is self-care, something as basic as getting sleep," she said. "I've had to say no to a lot of things. There's a cost for me emotionally when I speak up about things."
"I'm always a target because I’m a public figure, and I’m not doing activism in obscurity," she added. "I have to get myself ready for the bullets."