Cosmopolitan says ‘yes’ to love

Cosmopolitan+says+%27yes%27+to+love

Alexis Guerra

Emmy-winning actress, Laverne Cox, continues to make strides for the transgender community by being the first transgender woman to be the covergirl of Cosmopolitan Magazine. The cover of the February 2018 issue of Cosmopolitan South Africa showcases a power posing Cox sporting a sheer black bathing suit.

The Valentine’s day-themed issue is focused on problems faced by the LGBTQI+ community. The cover features a rainbow-colored title, a quote from Cox stating, “the truth will set you free” and the hashtag “Say Yes to Love.” Cox posted the cover on Twitter and Instagram on Jan. 21, where it was met with support and gave the movement much needed traction. Cosmopolitan South Africa’s Editor-in-Chief Holly Meadows spoke out about Cosmopolitan’s goal for this issue.

“Our goal was to play a small part in providing visibility for the LGBTQI+ community, of which Laverne has become a revolutionary icon,” Meadows said. “We wanted to disrupt hetero-normative ideas around February and Valentine’s Day and look at love in 2018–including acceptance of self, others and non-binary relationships.”

To support this goal, Cosmopolitan featured 17 other LGBTQI+ advocates in this issue alongside Laverne Cox. These advocates included musicians Desire Marea and Fela Gucci.

The issue’s release was accompanied by a video interview with Cox. She got personal about the secrecy surrounding being trans and about her ongoing struggle for acceptance in the world of entertainment. Cox also opened up about the most romantic thing a partner has ever done for her.

“As a black transgender woman, I’ve often been kept a secret by the men that I’ve dated,” Cox said. “So when my ex-boyfriend introduced me to his dad and invited me to spend Hanukkah with him and his family, it was the most special thing ever.”

This is one out of the many times that Cox has pushed the boundaries for the trans community. In 2014, Cox became the first openly transgender actress to receive an Emmy nominee for her role as Sophia Burset in “Orange is the New Black.” She was also the first transgender person to be featured on the cover of Time magazine. Her role in the show “Doubt” on CBS also made her the first transgender person to play a transgender character in a recurring role on network television.

Despite the progress made in the entertainment industry, there is still an severe lack of accurate representation of the transgender community in media. Netflix’s original shows such as “Orange is the New Black” and “Sense8” have made significant strides towards advancing representation, but mainstream media is falling behind. In 2014, there was not a single recurring transgender character on primetime broadcast television, according to Affinity Magazine.

When transgender characters are written in media, it’s also essential, according to transgender rights activist Raquel Willis, to have actors and actresses from the transgender community casted in these roles. Willis believes that in order for the public to accept transgender people, they must see these stories accurately portrayed.

“I must admit that it continues to be disheartening to see certain portrayals of my community’s experiences in the hands of cisgender people,” Willis stated in her article for the Huffington Post. “You want to showcase our stories, but not with us in the roles.”

According to information collected by GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), a LGBTQI+ media monitoring organization, at least 40 percent of transgender characters were casted as a “victim” and 21 percent were cast in a “killer” role. Out of all the character roles analyzed by GLAAD, only 12 percent of them were found to be “groundbreaking, fair and accurate enough to earn a GLAAD Media Award nomination.”

According to the associate director of entertainment media at GLAAD, Matt Kane, proper representation is vital in abolishing stereotypes about the trans community and to gain acceptance from the public.

“In absence of actually knowing someone who is LGBT, sometimes seeing a story about them on television or in film is the next best thing to fostering understanding and empathy for people,” Kane said in an article with U.S. News. “That is one of the most important components for when people go to the ballot box and vote on someone’s rights.”

The shift in the representation is due to the growing awareness of transgender rights as well as the growing number of advocates for the community, such as Cox.

Cox’s lasting remarks during a Twitter interview posted by Cosmopolitan South Africa held a lasting and hopeful message for the transgender community.

“Let go of fear and live a fun fearless life. If I can do it, you can do it too.”