Laverne Cox experienced a transphobic attack the weekend of November 29 that has left her feeling “triggered.” Despite being “in shock” and still processing the violent interaction, the Orange Is the New Black star felt she needed to share her story for an important reason.
“I haven’t gone live in a while, and this is a really weird reason to go live, but I had to share this,” Cox began a 10-minute video on Instagram Live on November 28. “Something just happened that I’m a little in shock…I’m definitely super triggered. So I’m in shock and I’m triggered and on Instagram Live now.”
Cox then described what happened: She went on a benign socially distanced walk with a friend in Los Angeles, and the pair was approached by a man “aggressively” asking for the time. Cox emphasized that she was wearing a hoodie and mask at the time and elected to ignore the man’s question because of his tone and demeanor. However, her friend gave the man the time.
“Then the guy who had asked for the time says to my friend, ‘Guy or girl?’ My friend says, ‘Fuck off,’” Cox recalled. “I’m walking, I’m hearing this happening in a split second and then all of a sudden the guy is attacking my friend…. The guy is hitting my friend and my friend is going towards him and I’m like, ‘Holy shit,’ and I pull out my phone and dial 9-1-1 and all of a sudden it’s over, and the guy is gone.”
Cox explained that her friend—who she’s hoping to keep anonymous—has trans friends and has dated trans people in the past but has never experienced this type of violent altercation in public. “I was like, ‘Yeah, it’s happened to me a lot,’” Cox continued. “I just can’t believe that, like, it got physical. I guess I can believe it; it was just really, really weird.”
Cox continued, “It’s just not safe in the world, and I don’t like to think about that a lot, but it is the truth. It’s not safe if you’re a trans person. Obviously, I know this well. It’s just really sad. I’m just thinking about how we were literally just walking through the park.”
Ultimately, Cox says, she’s grateful for her and her friend’s safety and felt the need to share this story to help others. “Living in fear is not a good thing. It doesn’t matter who you are. You can be Laverne Cox—whatever the hell that means—and if you’re trans, you’re gonna experience stuff like this,” she said. “Luckily my friend is safe. Luckily I’m safe. I’m definitely triggered and I’m gonna text my therapist after this to just process it.”
At first, Cox said, she was unsure if she should share the story in case it would be triggering for her followers; however, she wants everyone to know that these acts of violence are never the victim’s fault. In 2020 the Human Rights Campaign described violent attacks against the transgender community as an “epidemic of violence” with a record number of fatal attacks against trans and gender nonconforming people occurring in 2020.
“Part of what was going on in my head was, What could I have done differently?” Cox said toward the end of her video. “I started blaming myself. It’s important for me to remind myself and remind you that when these things happen, it’s not your fault. It’s not your fault that there are people who are not cool with you existing in the world. We have a right to walk in the park.”