Laverne Cox and Her Friend Were Targeted in a Transphobic Attack in Los Angeles

"It's not safe [in the world] if you're a trans person," Cox said on Instagram.

los angeles, california september 22 laverne cox attends the 71st emmy awards at microsoft theater on september 22, 2019 in los angeles, california photo by john shearergetty images
(Image credit: Amy Sussman)
  • Laverne Cox and her friend were the targets of a transphobic attack while walking in a Los Angeles park Saturday, she shared on Instagram.
  • "I'm in shock, and I'm triggered," Cox said.
  • "It’s not safe in the world. And I don’t like to think about that a lot, but it is the truth," she continued. "It’s the truth and it’s not safe if you’re a trans person."

Laverne Cox and her friend were subjected to a transphobic attack while taking a socially-distanced walk in Los Angeles' Griffith Park on Saturday, she shared on Instagram Live. "I'm in shock, and I'm triggered," Cox said, before recounting the horrifying attack.

Cox said she and her friend were walking through the park when a man "very aggressively" asked for the time. "My friend who I’m with tells him the time—looks at his watch and tells him the time—and then the guy who had asked for the time says to my friend, ‘Guy or girl?' My friend says, 'Fuck off.'"

The man then physically attacked Cox's friend, she said. "I’m walking, I’m hearing all this is happening in a split second, and then all of a sudden the guy is attacking my friend, and I look back and I’m like 'What is happening?' The guy is like hitting my friend, and then my friend is going towards him and I’m like 'Holy shit!' and I pull out my phone and I call to dial 911, and all of a sudden it’s over and the guy is gone."

"The guy really wanted me to answer [when he asked for the time] so that he could spook whether I’m trans or not," Cox continued. "I don’t know why, I don’t know why it matters. At the end of the day, it’s like who cares? I’m in a hoodie and yoga pants, I’m completely covered up, I’ve got my mask on—who cares if I’m trans? Who cares? How does this affect your life?"

"It never fails to be shocking, I guess. This has happened to me before, it’s happened many times, it’s not new. I’ve been trans my whole life, I’ve been harassed and bullied my whole life, none of this is new," she said.

Cox reflected on the violence trans people consistently face simply for existing in public (as of this month, at least 39 trans or gender non-conforming people have been murdered in the U.S., according to the Human Rights Campaign.) "It’s not safe in the world. And I don’t like to think about that a lot, but it is the truth," she said. "It’s the truth and it’s not safe if you’re a trans person. Obviously, I know this well. It’s just really sad."

She finished by urging her followers not to blame themselves when subjected to transphobia. "It’s important for me to remind myself and remind you that when these things happen, it’s not your fault," Cox said. "It’s not your fault that people are not cool with you existing in the world. It was not my friend’s fault, it was not my fault that this happened. We have a right to walk in the park."

Emily Dixon
Morning Editor

Emily Dixon is a British journalist who’s contributed to CNN, Teen Vogue, Time, Glamour, The Guardian, Wonderland, The Big Roundtable, Bust, and more, on everything from mental health to fashion to political activism to feminist zine collectives. She’s also a committed Beyoncé, Kacey Musgraves, and Tracee Ellis Ross fan, an enthusiastic but terrible ballet dancer, and a proud Geordie lass.