Laverne Cox is opening up about some painful childhood memories in the latest issue of Gay Times magazine, revealing she was forced to undergo conversion therapy as a youngster growing up in Mobile, Alabama.
“My third grade teacher called my mother on the phone and famously said, ‘Your son is going to end up in New Orleans wearing a dress if you don’t get him into therapy right away,'” she recalls. “I went into this reparative therapy of sorts — that was awful, horrible and shaming, and that was a moment that really instilled in me that I shouldn’t be as feminine as I was and should try to act differently. I did, kind of, but couldn’t really help myself and who I was.”
While the “therapy” didn’t remove her feminine tendencies, it did lead her to feel ashamed of who she was.
“After that therapy experience, I had so much shame about knowing I was a girl,” she tells the magazine. “I always knew I was a girl and it was something my therapist knew. I internalized so much shame because of my therapist, my mother and my teacher, and everyone trying to ‘fix’ me.”
She says that meeting others who were experiencing the same feelings is what really led her to come to terms with her true self.
“It wasn’t until I moved to New York and met real trans women that I was able to accept I was a girl — to let me stop running from it,” she adds. “My transition, for me, was about moving out of denial and moving into acceptance about who I am.”
You can read the full interview with the “Orange Is the New Black” star in the June issue of Gay Times.