Laverne Cox has spoken about the importance of transgender representation in the mainstream media.
The actor, who is best known for playing Sophia in Orange is the New Black stressed that an increase of trans representation would help to combat transphobic attitudes.
Currently, out of 260 LGBT+ characters on TV, only 11 are transgender and three of those are on the same show – Transparent.
On a panel about trans trends at GLAAD, Cox spoke with Alexandra Billings, Shadi Petosky, Rhys Ernst, and Jill Soloway about the portrayal of trans characters and why it matters.
Cox explained that too often it feels like the show’s creators spend too much time focussing on the transition storyline of trans characters, rather than their life afterwards.
She said: “Transition narratives are most useful within the community.
“They are not problematic, but it becomes the only thing people focus on. My life got way more interesting after I transitioned.”
The actor likened it to storylines of LGB characters focussing on them coming out.
She added that it was important to keep normalising trans characters because there is too many “misconceptions” about who trans people really are.
“There’s never an advantage of killing trans people.
“There’s a lot of misconceptions who trans people are.
“It’s crucial to have representation on TV to go beyond those tropes, and it’s a crucial part of making policy,” Cox said.
Cox recently addressed the controversy around appointing cisgender actors to play trans roles after controversial clips from the film “Anything” were released.
The film follows the story of a transgender sex worker but Matt Bomer, who is not trans, has been cast in the role.
A number of people criticised the decision to cast Bomer, including actor Jen Richards who is trans and auditioned for the part.
Cox explained that she believes having trans actors helps the audience connect on another level.
She said: “My experience as a trans woman playing a trans character is that I have found that audiences not only have empathy for the character that I play but they find themselves having empathy for the actor who plays that character.
“And I think there’s a lot of evidence that this moment happening with me and ‘Orange’ has created an enormous amount of social change. Right? I mean, like just look at the resume! The proof is there.”