Skip to main content Skip to header navigation

Anti-Trans Violence Has Taken A Toll On Laverne Cox’s Mental Health & Here’s How She’s Handling It

In a short period of time, 2022 has become a very intense and harrowing year for trans folks and the people who love them. With renewed anti-trans sentiments and legislation taking hold in various states, including laws that would discourage or criminalize science-backed, compassionate care that affirms and validates transgender children, it’s helpful to have grown members of the trans community who are able to put to words exactly how painful living through this time can be and model the resilience and community care needed to make it through.

Laverne Cox (Orange is the New Black, Inventing Anna) shared in an interview with a glimpse at her own experiences seeing these harmful moves progress through state legislatures.

“I think of the violence against trans people—it has really [messed] me up,” Cox told Health. “There were anti-trans bills introduced into state legislatures in 2021. Many of them use language like ‘biologically male but thinks they’re a girl.’ They don’t actually use the word transgender. It’s language that literally erases us as trans people.”

And witnessing that erasure does add up overtime and can contribute to the often harmful outcomes and health disparities we see in trans people who aren’t given affirmation and support — as opposed to the documented benefits of giving trans youth affirming care early on.

For Cox, however, she notes that taking responsibility for her mental health has been of the utmost importance for navigating traumatic times.

“So, I’ve really found myself needing to protect my mental health.I’m responsible for my mental health. I’m responsible for how I respond or don’t respond to trauma. I can have compassion for myself and grace for myself,” Cox said. “I think we can simultaneously acknowledge systemic oppression and inequities and also say, ‘In the face of this systemic oppression, what is my part in bettering my life? Bettering my mental health?’ Well, one way is to unplug from the news sometimes. And I’ve learned that I have to lean into my joy.”

Cox also cites the Community Resiliency Model, developed by the Trauma Research Institute’s six skills — which offers some trauma-informed and resiliency-focused skills for coping and navigating traumatic situations (for oneself and the broader community), calling attention to “resourcing.”

“And resourcing is just really about that thing that makes you feel good in your life. It might be a song. It might be the thought of a person. I’ll think about my boyfriend cooking breakfast for me and I just light up inside,” Cox says. “We have to lean into those things that bring us joy. And the things that don’t, we need to let them go to protect our mental health.”

f you or someone you know is at risk of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. If you’re a young LGBTQ person and need to talk to someone, call The Trevor Project’s 24-hour crisis hotline for youth at 1-866-488-7386 and/or The Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860. 

Before you go, check out our favorite affordable mental health apps for extra brain TLC: 

Leave a Comment