CBS Fawns Over Laverne Cox; Plays Up How Actor Gives 'Hope' to LGBT Community

Tuesday's CBS This Morning broke out the kid gloves for Laverne Cox, and zeroed in on how the Orange is the New Black actor is "the first openly-transgendered woman ever nominated for an acting Emmy." Charlie Rose spotlighted how "there are people contacting you saying, my God – thank God for you being there, because they've been struggling with identity. And all of a sudden, you give them hope."

When Norah O'Donnell touted how her guest's Time magazine cover was "second to the Pope, in terms of interest online," Cox underlined the apparent divine plan behind this success, but then asserted that his biological identity was foisted upon him: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]

NORAH O'DONNELL: Nancy Gibbs, of course, is the fabulous editor of Time magazine, and I was asking her which of her covers sells the best – and their subscription service. But she said online, your cover was the second to the Pope, in terms of interest online.

COX: That is insane!

KING: I'll bet you didn't have that dream.

COX: You know that – the cover of Time magazine – that surpassed. You know, the funny thing is – you know, God has a plan for you that you can't even imagine for yourself sometimes. So I just – a lot of my work is just to submit to that thing-

KING: But let's – let people know about you, Laverne, because you were born a boy, but-

COX: Well, I was assigned male at birth, is the way I like to put it, because I think....we're born who we are...and the gender thing is something that somebody imposes on you. And so, I was assigned male at birth, but I always feel like I was a girl.

Co-host Gayle King set the tone of the softball interview by first pointing out that after she "said 'Emmy-nominated,' you went, wow." Cox replied, in part, that "to be nominated, it just feels – it's a dream come true. It really is." O'Donnell followed up with her Time magazine citation, which quickly led to the actor's contention that "the gender thing is something that somebody imposes on you."

King then asked, "When did you realize that your gender did not fit your identity? Was it one moment or was [it] an evolution? What was it?" Cox answered by giving a childhood account about a teacher recommending therapy for his gender-bending behavior and how this led to "a lot of shame."

Near the end of the segment, Rose pointed out that "transgendered has become a movement." The actor retorted that "it's been a movement for a long time. It's just people are finding out about it more." King kept up her fawning treatment to the very last second by stating "next time you come, we must talk about dating. I'd like to know how that is for you."

The transcript of the relevant portions of the Laverne Cox interview from Tuesday's CBS This Morning:


GAYLE KING: 'Orange is the New Black,' the Netflix series about life in a women's prison, is now in its second season – and shooting the third. The show is nominate for 12 Emmys, including one for Laverne Cox – the one and only. She plays the resident hair stylist, Sophia Burset. She is the first openly-transgendered woman ever nominated for an acting Emmy. And that's not her only milestone this year. Last month, she also became the first transgendered woman to be featured on the cover of Time.

Laverne Cox, good morning – the first transgendered person – and when I said 'Emmy-nominated,' you went, wow.

[CBS News Graphic: "Surely Laverne: 'Orange Is The New Black' Star's Trailblazing Role"]

LAVERNE COX, ACTRESS, ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK: It's so weird. (laughs) I'm like, really? The funny thing is, I've dreamed about being nominated for – for an Emmy, Oscars – all those things – my whole life, and I've given countless Emmy speeches in my shower. (laughs) So, to be nominated, it just feels – it's a dream come true. It really is.

KING: And Norah, tell her what – tell everybody what you just told her in the green room about Time-

NORAH O'DONNELL: Nancy Gibbs, of course, is the fabulous editor of Time magazine, and I was asking her which of her covers sells the best – and their subscription service. But she said online, your cover was the second to the Pope, in terms of interest online.

COX: That is insane!

KING: I'll bet you didn't have that dream.

COX: You know that – the cover of Time magazine – that surpassed. You know, the funny thing is – you know, God has a plan for you that you can't even imagine for yourself sometimes. So I just – a lot of my work is just to submit to that thing-

KING: But let's – let people know about you, Laverne, because you were born a boy, but-

COX: Well, I was assigned male at birth, is the way I like to put it, because I think-

KING: Okay – all right-

COX: We're born who we are, and I think – and the gender thing is something that somebody imposes on you. And so, I was assigned male at birth, but I always feel like I was a girl.

KING: Okay. But when did you realize that your gender did not fit your identity? Was it one moment or was [it] an evolution? What was it?

COX: Until – up until third grade, I thought that I was a girl, and I thought there were no differences between boys and girls. But in third grade, my third grade teacher, Miss Ridgeway, called my mother and said, your son is going to end up in New Orleans wearing a dress if we don't get him into therapy right away. So, everyone knew both I knew, and there were all these, sort of, steps to correct me to – to make me more masculine and all that stuff throughout my childhood. So, I ended up having a lot of shame about who I was very authentically.

O'DONNELL: And you were teased and bullied?

COX: Oh, majorly – like big time. I was chased home from school like every day by kids – groups of kids – who wanted to beat me up. I was called names. It was pretty awful and really traumatizing. It's taken years – and I'm still not really over it, actually.

CHARLIE ROSE: And so, what have been the transformational moments for you?

COX: For me – you know, I think it was moving to New York and actually meeting transgendered – actual transgendered people. I had all these misconceptions about what trans people were and – based on what I had seen in the media – and all these, sort of, misconceptions I had. And when I got to know actual trans people as people, all of my misconceptions about trans folks disappeared. And so, I think when we get to know people as people, our misconceptions about people who are different from us can melt away.

CHARLIE ROSE: And there are people contacting you saying, my God – thank God for you being there, because they've been struggling with identity. And all of a sudden, you give them hope.

COS: I've – I've gotten hundreds at this point of those kinds of messages – from parents who've said that they've – they're understanding their trans children better; trans folks who've said that they've transitioned because of this character. And also, trans people who have already been transitioning who feel like their dreams are now possible because I'm living very openly as myself – and my dreams.

(...)

O'DONNELL: And why do you think there's such interest in this show?

COX: People are seeing themselves in these characters. I believe that.

KING: Next time you come-

ROSE: (unintelligible) Transgendered has become a movement.

KING: Yes-

COX: It's been a movement for a long time. It's just people are finding out about it more.

KING: Next time you come, we must talk about dating.

COX: (laughs) Okay.

KING: I'd like to know how that is for you.

COX: Oh, honey, it's hard. (laughs)

O'DONNELL: Laverne Cox, great to have you at the table.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center