Ithaca, N.Y. — A star of the hit Netflix show “Orange Is the New Black” will be appearing in Ithaca tonight at Cornell’s Bailey Hall.

Tickets are still available at the door to see Laverne Cox, who plays an incarcerated African American transgender woman on the show.


Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and Cox will begin speaking at 7:30 p.m., according to the Cornell University Program Board.

CUPB has sold out the free tickets offered prior to the event. If those with tickets don’t show up by 7:20 p.m., however, their seats will be turned over to those waiting in line will get in, according to CUPB Chairperson Zach Zahos.

Cox has risen to national fame as a spokesperson for the growing transgender movement.

“Laverne is the first trans woman of color to have a leading role on a mainstream scripted television show,” her online bio states. “Time Magazine named Sophia Burset” — the character Cox plays — “the 4th most influential fictional character of 2013.”

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Says the CUPB about the show:

“Laverne will talk about her life and journey as a transgender woman in Hollywood and the obstacles she has had to overcome throughout her life.”

The website Identities.Mic reported:

While acknowledging that her character, Sophia, is just one trans voice among many, she said that she hopes her portrayal gives the transgender community validation through representation. “So many trans folks have said that they see themselves reflected in this character,” she said. “Having your story told validates your experience. It’s like, ‘I’m not alone anymore, and maybe I’ll be OK.’”

We have reached a critical moment in American culture regarding transgender rights, but there is still work to be done, considering the excessive amount of violence perpetrated against trans individuals, specifically trans women of color. Trans people make up about 10% of the LGBT community but well over half of the homicide rate. 

This is not the first time Cox has spoken out recently about trans visibility in the media. She further elaborated upon her position in a Creative Emmys red carpet interview with AfterEllen‘s Trish Bendix. The work of Cox, Janet Mock and others continue to push the dialogue when it comes to both the inclusion and acceptance of trans individuals throughout the various forms of media culture. This tireless advocacy has continued to open channels to larger levels of both self and societal acceptance of the trans community.

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Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.