On The Wendy Williams Show Monday, Laverne Cox, star of the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black, acquitted herself admirably as she answered Williams’s questions and provided what amounted to a short on-air Trans 101.
When asked “What is transgender?” Cox replied, “Transgender … very basically means that the gender you identify as is different than the one you are assigned at birth. Very simple. And transgender people’s experiences are really very different, so there’s really no one sort of like blanket transgender experience, so it’s really about listening to individuals in terms of who they are and accepting people on their own terms.” The audience responded with cheers.
Williams immediately followed up with “You’ve got breast implants?” but Cox wasn’t going to go there and gently pushed back, even as Williams described the appearance of Cox’s breasts as “tasteful.” Cox responded, “I’ve chosen not to talk about any of this stuff I’ve gotten done because I think so often when trans people's experiences are talked about, we far too often talk about surgery and transition, so I don’t talk about that, but I’m very happy with the situation,” clearly referring to her own body.
Williams’s questions didn’t get any more insightful after that, but Cox handled her queries with grace and intelligence throughout.
Williams came under fire earlier this year for similarly uneducated, body-focused comments made on her radio show regarding transgender athlete Chloie Jonsson, who Williams said was unfairly wanting to compete in the women's division of fitness competition CrossFit. After backlash from trans advocates and allies, Williams tweeted an apology for those remarks, positioning herself as a "long LGBT ally and GLAAD supporter," and pledging to use the experience to become better educated on issues facing transgender people.
Watch the entire interview below: