Actress Laverne Cox took to IGTV this weekend to share the details of a transphobic assault on her and a friend that has left her “in shock and triggered.”
As Reuters reports, the Orange Is the New Black alum and outspoken transgender activist said she was approached by a man while out on a socially distanced walk with a friend in Los Angeles. After he “very aggressively” asked for the time, the man demanded to know whether Cox was a “’guy or girl.'”
When Cox’s friend told the stranger to “fuck off,” the encounter quickly turned violent. According to Cox, her friend was struck several times.
“I look back and I’m like ’What is happening?’ The guy is like hitting my friend, and then my friend is going toward him and I’m like ’Holy shit!'” she recalled to her 4.4 million Instagram followers. “I pull out my phone and I call to dial 911, and all of a sudden it’s over and the guy is gone.”
Cox is safe and unharmed, and she said her friend, who prefers to remain anonymous, was “fine.” Still, the random attack left the actress feeling “triggered” — and reminded her of the staggeringly high rates of hate-motivated violence transgender people face every day.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, at least 39 trans or gender non-conforming Americans were violently killed in 2020 alone. That number marks a grim single-year high since HRC began tracking trans homicides in 2013. Black trans women like Cox are also disproportionately impacted by this epidemic of violence.
“It’s not safe in the world. And I don’t like to think about that a lot, but it’s the truth,” Cox added. “It’s the truth, and it’s not safe if you’re a trans person. Obviously, I know this well. It’s just really sad. It doesn’t matter who you are. You can be Laverne Cox, you know, or whatever that means. If you’re trans… you’re going to experience stuff like this.”
She ended her IGTV video by reassuring trans people that transphobic encounters aren’t their fault: “We were walking in the park. We weren’t doing anything. I think it’s important for me to remind you, and to remind myself, that when these things happen, it isn’t your fault. That there are people who are not cool with you existing in the world. … If something like this happens to you, be as safe as you can.”
Sending love to Laverne and her friend.