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Trans Star Laverne Cox: Bathroom Privacy Laws Are About ‘Stigmatizing and Pretending We Don’t Exist’

Laverne Cox, transgender star of the hit Netflix series Orange Is the New Black, came out swinging against states passing so-called “transgender bathroom” laws in an interview, calling the legislation “stigmatizing” to transgender individuals.

“All of these laws have been passed really are about stigmatizing and pretending we don’t exist,” Cox told the Daily Beast in an interview, referring to laws including North Carolina’s HB 2, passed last March, which prohibits transgender men who identify as women to use women’s restrooms in North Carolina.

“They’re saying our lives don’t matter,” Cox said of transgender bathroom laws.

From Bruce Jenner’s very public gender transition to the fight over sex-segregated public facilities, transgender rights have become a focal point of popular culture and even presidential politics, and are now being debated in the U.S. Congress.

The LGBT Data Inclusion Act, recently introduced by Arizona Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, would require federal agencies, including the Census Bureau, to include questions about gender identity and sexual orientation on U.S. demographic surveys.

“We literally don’t count LGBT people in the United States,” said Cox, who was recently on Capitol Hill lobbying for the bill’s passage. “We don’t have an accurate count of how many LGBT people there are in the United States. They are left out of vital policy discussions when policies are being made.”

“So many policy decisions are made based on demographic information,” Cox added. “But we don’t have that information on LGBT people.”

In the fourth season of Orange is the New Black, Cox’s character, Sophia Burset — a transgender inmate in a minimum-security women’s federal prison — is left to languish in solitary confinement.

When the CBS drama Doubt premieres next year, Cox will become the first transgender actress to play a transgender character as a series regular on a broadcast television show.

 

Follow Jerome Hudson on Twitter: @jeromeehudson

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