Actress and producer Laverne Cox just made history as the first ever trans covergirl for Cosmo.
Set to appear on Cosmopolitan South Africa‘s February 2018 cover, the Orange Is the New Black star offered up an inspiring message to the magazine’s readers for the issue.
“Trans women deserve to be loved out in the open and in the light,” she said in a pre-issue interview posted to Twitter. “Let go of fear and live a fun, fearless life. If I can do it, you can do it.
“As a black transgender woman, I’ve often been kept a secret by the men I’ve dated,” Cox said, when asked about romance. “So, when my ex-boyfriend introduced me to his dad, and invited me to spend Hanukkah with him and his family, it was the most special thing ever.”
Cox is the face of the mag’s #SayYesToLove issue, which “explores the need for increasing visibility with regards to various forms of gender identity and sexuality,” according to the publisher.
The issue features 17 LGBTQI+ advocates including YouTube vlogger Glow Mamiii, and musicians Desire Marea and Fela Gucci.
Another kickass voice featured in the issue is 19-year-old trans model and activist Elle van der Burg, who identifies as pansexual. “To ask when I started [transitioning], is like me asking you when you started being yourself,” she said in a behind-the-scenes video for Cosmo.
“We’re just like everyone else — we’re just not as privileged to be perceived the way as everyone else is. I’m like every other girl. I might look a little different and be a little taller, but I think that’s pretty badass. Anyone you know could be trans. Human dignity and respect is something we give to everyone every day, anyway.”
Van de Burg says that trans rights aren’t adequately taken into consideration in regards to legal, structural and social development in South Africa. “It’s legal for me to be openly transgender in our country. However, a lot of people don’t think about trans people when they think about spaces where trans people would need to be in to survive and live happy, normal, healthy lives,” she said.
In 1996, South Africa’s new Constitution made discrimination based on sexual orientation illegal, and in 2006, South Africa was the first African nation to legalise same-sex marriage (the fifth country in the the world to do so). However, despite progress with legislation, LGBTQI folks are still facing forms of discrimination, homophobia, bullying and violence today.
So, to dedicate an entire mainstream magazine issue to equality, love and inclusivity, regardless of gender or sexuality? Seriously great stuff, Cosmo.
I’m hoping this amazing new issue of @CosmopolitanSA signals a turning point for magazines, especially here.
Inclusivity and understanding should always be in season 😘
— POST MALUME☕ (@iamDasKapital) January 22, 2018