Belfast Telegraph

Laverne Cox helped change co-star's view on transgender cousin

Jackie Cruz feels the LGBTQ community has a powerful platform to get its messages heard.

Laverne Cox was instrumental in helping her Orange Is The New Black co-star Jackie Cruz understand her transgender cousin.

The transgender actress has been a longtime advocate and trailblazer for the LGBTQ community, and her impact even reached her onscreen prison inmate Jackie, who was struggling to come to terms with a family member's transition.

"I have a family member who is transgender and I didn't understand a lot," Jackie tells People magazine. "Getting to talk to Laverne, seeing her story on the show, seeing her real story, helped me understand a lot about my cousin."

Although Laverne, who plays Sophie Burset on the show, had been acting in Hollywood for a while, it wasn't until Orange Is the New Black became a hit series in 2013 that she was able to properly give a voice to voiceless members of her LGBTQ community.

"I just feel like we have such a powerful platform right now," Jackie continues. "People are actually listening to what we're saying. She's actually changed my way of thinking. She's probably changed they way of thinking for a lot of people."

Laverne, 32, has never been afraid to speak openly about the hurdles she faces as a member of the transgender community, and last year (15), she gave a startling insight into what it's like to date.

"A lot of my girlfriends are trans and date men and navigating dating as a trans woman, particularly a trans woman who dates men, is really, really tricky and challenging,” she told Collider of why she thinks a famous man who dates a transgender woman needs to go public with the romance.

“And I’ve often said that loving a transgender person is a revolutionary act. And that so often, the men who date us are deeply stigmatised, and that is something that is misunderstood and mis-recognised."

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