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An open letter to the Television Academy: Laverne Cox – History in the Making

An open letter to the Television Academy

laverne_coxLet’s get one thing clear from the get-go.

Laverne Cox deserves the Emmy.

Not because of her story, but because of her talent.

True, Tina Fey, Melissa McCarthy & Joan Cusack make worthy adversaries in the Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series category, but let’s be honest here; Laverne Cox’s turn in Orange is the New Black this past season was awesome.

Now, here’s why I’m writing this letter.

We ALL know the politics involved in awards voting. We know you’ve had that missive from the studios you’re currently associated with; imploring you to cast a vote for the good of the channel, it’s ratings and it’s reputation.

It’s hard not to be swayed, when your personal choices at the ballot may impact you professionally and indeed financially if your current project flourishes on the coattails of your contemporary’s success.

But as hard as it is to remove yourself from the instinct of self-preservation; here’s why you should vote for Cox.

There are very few transgender role models in society.

Very few in the public eye at least.

We need role models to change society. We need them to shift opinion. We need to get rid of a culture of ‘cock in a frock’ jokes that permeate playgrounds, pubs and offices. We need to stop the freak-show.

Not just for those born into the wrong gender, who certainly need a beacon of light in their future to show anything’s possible, but for the people who are currently standing in the way of their progress.

According to the Gay and Lesbian Atlas, there are nearly 700,000 transgender individuals in the U.S. alone. That’s 0.3% of the adult population. Of those who identify as transgender, the majority have taken some steps to transition from one gender to another. Read Why The T?

I’m sure you’re already aware of the sort of discrimination transgender people face on a daily basis, but just in case you’ve not had your soya latte yet, let me give you a snapshot of what it’s like in one of the worlds more liberal states; New York.


• 74% harassed or mistreated on the job

• 20% lost a job

• 20% were denied a promotion

• 37% were not hired after interview


• 75% in grades K-12 reported harassment

• 35% physical assault

• 12% sexual violence

• 14% left school after prolonged harassment


• 19% had a household income of $10,000 or less, compared to 4% for general population

• 12% are unemployed, compared to 7% nationally at the time of the survey


• 8% were evicted

• 19% were denied a home or apartment

• 18% became homeless due to gender expression

• 24% had to find a temporary place to stay

• 25% had to move back in with family or friends

• 23% owned a home, compared to 67% for general population


• 53% verbally harassed in hotels, restaurants, airports or government agencies

• 18% denied equal treatment by government official or agency

• 11% denied equal treatment by judges or court officials

• 22% harassed by police officers

• 49% uncomfortable asking for police assistance

Health care:

• 17% refused medical care due to gender expression

• 5.4% HIV positive, compared to 0.6% for general population

• 29% postponed needed medical care due to discrimination

• 36% attempted suicide, 22 times the 1.6% rate for the general population

Source: National Transgender Discrimination Survey. (Based on 531 respondents in New York in a survey by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force)

Now. Take that in and imagine what it’s like if you’re living in the South.

We all know that change does not happen overnight. But we do know that tiny ripples help. One small gesture can change the world, and who wouldn’t want to pay it forward on a global scale?

Society will not change overnight, but you have a chance to make a dent.

So go on. Cast your vote and get Laverne Cox on the front of almost every paper in the world.

Help her make history, while you help shape the future.



Barry Church-Woods,


Categories: LGBT

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