Actress Laverne Cox went on Instagram Live after she and a male friend were accosted by a transphobic stranger during a walk in Griffith Park, Los Angeles.
The Orange Is the New Black actress said the encounter that turned violent left her feeling “super triggered.”
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Cox said she and her companion were out for a socially distanced walk wearing masks when a guy approached them and “aggressively” asked for the time.
When her friend told him the time, the man asked him, “guy or girl?”—referring to Cox’s gender.
The friend then told him to “f’k off.”
Cox heard the exchange behind her as she kept walking and said everything seemed to happen in a split second.
“All of a sudden, the guy is attacking my friend. I was like, what is happening?”
“The guy is hitting my friend, and then my friend is going towards him and I’m like, holy sh*t.”
Cox took out her phone to call 911. But as she dialed, the fight quickly de-escalated, and the guy disappeared.
Her friend later told her he often hangs out with trans friends in public and has never experienced something like that before.
But transphobic harassment is something Cox is too familiar with.
She told her friend, “it’s happened to me a lot.”
“It doesn’t always get physical but I have a long history of street harassment in New York…but I can’t believe it got physical.”
She assured her fans she was safe and her friend was okay.
Her followers expressed their frustration over the transphobic assault and were relieved to hear she and her friend were fine.
In addition to her activism, Cox is known by her LGBT peers as a trailblazer for the transgender community.
She is also the first openly transgender person to be featured on the cover of TIME magazine, nominated for a Primetime Emmy, and have a waxwork in her image at Madame Tussauds.
But she understands the reality of living in a society where acceptance is not always prevalent.
“It’s not safe in the world. I don’t like to think about that a lot but it’s the truth, and it’s not safe if you’re a trans person. Obviously, I know this well.”
She and her friend suspected the guy was looking for trouble and was hoping Cox would respond to his question because she is a trans person in public.
“This isn’t shocking to me, this is my life, I’ve dealt with this a lot. But it never fails to be shocking…I’ve been harassed and bullied my whole life, none of this is new.”
Cox said she was grateful her friend was there to protect her and quickly de-escalated the violent encounter. She plans to contact her therapist to process what happened.
“Living in fear is not a good thing.”
The Huffington Post reported the actress did not report the incident to the Los Angeles Police Department.