Why was actress/activist Laverne Cox excluded from the Time 100?


When I was covering Time magazine’s Most Influential Issue (also known as the Time 100), I completely forgot about Laverne Cox. Time did a lot of online polling this year to determine the “fan favorites” of who should be included on the list. I’m sure that’s how Benedict Cumberbatch made the list too – the Cumberbitches voted early and often and they skewed the polling. But before the Time 100 was announced, I was keeping tabs on some of the other fan-favorites, and at various points, Laverne Cox was getting more votes than Justin Bieber.

Cox is probably best known as the transgender actress appearing on Orange Is the New Black, but since her fame skyrocketed after that show, she has also become known as a wonderfully effective activist on LGBT issues, with an emphasis on the transgendered. She’s enormously popular on social media and in the LGBT community and I was pleased to see that she was polling so well on the Time fan-favorite poll. But then… she wasn’t included on the Time 100. So, what happened?

When you’re picking the year’s 100 Most Influential People, surely someone isn’t going to be happy with the final list. In this case, outraged fans have zeroed in on Time omitting Laverne Cox, the transgender icon who stars on Orange is the New Black. In an earlier fan-voted poll on Time‘s site, 91.5% of respondents said Cox should be included on the magazine’s final list. The public polls don’t directly affect the list’s results — Time editors simply consider them before making final decisions. Still, many readers were surprised to see someone with such a groundswell of support not be named to the list. (A rep for Time didn’t immediately respond to EW‘s request for comment.)

The Daily Dot points to a Tumblr post that pictures Cox’s dominance in the reader polls, adding this caption: “And then they didn’t put her on the list.” The post quickly went viral, racking up 44,000 reblogs and “likes” in 24 hours. People who did make the list over Cox? Matthew McConaughey, John Green, Benedict Cumberbatch, and, of course, the extremely influential Amy Adams. (Insert eye roll here.)

[From EW]

So, Time was just doing the online polling for fun, because if Time said they would put the top vote-getter on the list, then “Your Mama” or “Ben Dover” (Pat McGroin?) or Connie Lingis would have gotten a bajillion votes. Still, you’ve got to think that Time Mag wasn’t ready to include a trans activist/actress on their list just because… well, so many people are still transphobic.

For her part, Laverne took the Time 100 omission in stride – she tweeted about it by just sending out love to her fans and for the people making #whereislavernecox happen. She also tweeted yesterday that she got an invite to the Time 100 party too. So, Time is fine with partying with Laverne, they just don’t want her in the magazine?


Photos courtesy of WENN.

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36 Responses to “Why was actress/activist Laverne Cox excluded from the Time 100?”

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  1. Lisa says:

    because she has been on one season of one netflix show, given a couple of speeches, and produced one grossly misogynistic reality TV show that actively upheld shoving ridiculous misogynistic beauty standards down the throats of non-trans women

    what the fuck is admirable about that

    • Tapioca says:

      Pish! Beyoncé has been shoving ridiculously misogynistic beauty standards down our throats for years and she got a cover.

      Maybe it’s because they look kinda similar and Time doesn’t trust their readership to tell the difference?

    • QQ says:

      Um Free Cece McDonald activist work and doc, and trans activist work and that sonning of stupid ass Katie Couric about trans issues?(seriously I’d give her every award alone on how THAT was handled!)

      But yeah she isn’t included cause transphobia and lowering the bar of the conversation “but what are your genitals like” is still a thing

    • Lisa says:

      Explain your last point better?

      • Lisa #2 says:

        She had a show called TRANSform Me on VH1 which had a panel of three transgender women “making over” a woman every episode. Same bull as all the other makeover shows, but it especially dings because Laverne’s being held up as a paragon of feminism imo.

      • Lisa #2 says:

        Oh wait, I’m so dumb. I didn’t realize you were OP and thought you were asking about that, hah.

  2. tifzlan says:

    I have a serious question that is related, but not directly about Laverne Cox. At what point do trans* people stop identifying as a trans-woman or a trans-man and just identify as woman or man? Wouldn’t referring to yourself as trans-woman/man always remind you of what you were prior to transitioning?

    Edit: This is not an attack on Cox, trans-people, the obstacles they’ve overcome or their achievements. Just wanted to make that clear in case someone felt like i was diminishing Cox’s activism.

    • MonicaQ says:

      I am not trans so I cannot say but I think it’s a “for life” thing like I am a “CIS female” and will more than likely always be as such. I think this is why sometimes the phrase “transgendered” is frowned upon and “transgender” used insted; the “ed” makes it seem like they are done which they would not be. Then again, some transgender persons feel like the moment they can pass, reliably, they have fully transitioned. (Explanation I got from 1 trans person, obviously does not include all the feelings and view points trans people, I am not trans I do not know the fight, tumblr addendum)

    • Cas says:

      tifzlan, thanks for asking. Being a trans person who is in the middle of coming out, that’s a question I struggle with myself. I think it’s a highly personal thing, but in my case there’s a kind of dichotomy between my social persona and who I actually feel I am. I identify as a man without any qualifiers added, but socially I identify as a trans man, as I don’t pass at the moment and people ask questions.

      For me, it also creates a sense of community with others who are in the same situation, who’ve had to fight to be seen for what they really are. That’s something not easy to forget. I mean, who I was or who I appeared to be was part of my life for such a long time (I’m in my late 20s), so I expect it to always lurk somewhere in the back of my mind. I look back at pictures or I hear stories from a few years ago, and I am reminded that I was (or seemed to be) a different person back then. (Also, having to dress up as a woman for my FIL’s silver wedding. He and his wife are both in their 70s and very conservative, so no way I can safely come out to them.)

      Eep, I’m sorry for rambling! It’s just something I’m thinking about a lot at the moment. Again, I want to emphasize that it’s only my personal view. And please tell me if something seems unclear, English is not my first language.)

    • Al says:

      Why should someone not refer to themselves as a transsexual, because society thinks it’s creepy or because they are disgusted with themselves before having corrective surgery and don’t want to be reminded of it?
      It’s a complicated issue and, I imagine, very difficult thing to explain to someone who has not experienced it. The best explanation that I have come across is the Pierce Morgan interview with Janet Mock. Pierce kept referring to her as previously a boy and Janet went through the interview without complaint about it. Afterwards she and Laverne Cox tweeted disappointment at the way she was treated by Pierce. He had her on for a follow up and she explained how complicated the issue is and how sometimes, things happen and you can’t even process them as they are happening because transgender awareness and acceptance in society are so new. It’s not just the words that are said during the interview, though. It’s that Janet Mock was able to appear again and stand up for herself and articulate, beautifully, how difficult it is to navigate through a society that struggles to understand who you are and how that shapes your own understanding about what you deserve from society.
      The whole exchange brought me a greater understanding, I recommend watching it if you want a greater understanding.

    • Bridget says:

      Every trans person I know has no qualifiers when referring to their gender. An excellent example: Chas Bono is consistently referred to as “he” and not “the transgender man”.

  3. blue marie says:

    I’ve always been a fan of Philip McCracken, Richard Cranium and the always popular Jim Shorts.

  4. Mata says:

    I’m sure she’s a very nice person, but until this post I had never heard of her. (I know the show is supposed to be great, but I just haven’t gotten around to it.).

  5. Aurie says:

    To be honest I feel it’s rather disgusting for people to feel they have the “right” to dictate who TIME puts on their list. TIME is a private organization and they can do whatever the hell they want to do. Not including someone on their list is not the same as discriminating against them.

    Honestly this reminds me of that recent crap happening with parents who autistic children who sued Disney to try to get special treatment (which Disney changed).

    • MonicaQ says:

      It’s not “the right”, they had a poll titled “Who Should Be On The Time 100?” and people voted. If someone got 91% of the vote then didn’t appear people obviously have the right to question “why”. Why bother having a poll if you’re not going to use the answers?

      Time could’ve put Thor, Chicken and Biscuits, and Fluttershy in their 100. They can do that. And we can also question it. Being a private company does not absolve one of all repute. I cannot speak on Disney since I live in Florida and stay away from everything having to do with the corporate rat.

      • flutters says:

        To be fair, Laverne Cox tweeted out the link to the TIME poll to her followers, so of course she was going to poll well. Her followers understandably turned it into a cause and turned out in big numbers.

        Katy Perry and Justin Bieber polled ahead of Laverne Cox according to TIME (link) and they weren’t included either as far as I know.

        It would’ve been a forward thinking move of TIME to include Laverne Cox and I understand that it would’ve meant a lot. But fans of hers are doing her no favors by going after people who did make the list, especially based on the results of a poll that was really about which fanbases were motivated to make a point. The poll wasn’t necessarily representative of general influence.

      • HH says:

        @Flutters – Katy Perry and Justin Beiber aren’t influential, at least in the way TIME uses the word.

  6. Kate says:

    I actually agree that Cox should have been on the list and I think the anger at her exclusion is justified. That said, I’m also kind of actively disgusted by the way I’ve seen people treat Amy Adams bc Time honored her bc it’s totally uncalled for, out of line and at times pretty sexist.

    Adams came from a poor family. She’s one of the few stars working right now who didn’t come from money or had famous parents and she’s had 5 Oscar nominations in like 7 years despite not breaking out until the age of 30 in a sexist, ageist industry. She doesn’t exploit herself or her child for the tabloids and is a good role model for young girls. I definitely look up to her and I know other performers and young women who do too.

    The singling out of Amy Adams (on a list already with more men than women) just seems really nasty and unwarranted.

    • kennedy says:

      THIS. I’ve been an active reader of this site for years, and this is the first comment that I want to hug!

      Why put down someone else just because Cox didn’t make the list? Why does it have to be one woman, and not another? But more importantly- Adams IS influential. And I too think that the reaction towards her placement is disgusting. She’s not a 20-something starlet that skyrocketed to fame overnight. She worked her ass off, and at 38-39 has become a true, solid movie star. I think her story resonates with MANY hopeful actors, and I absolutely love that she can play the lead/other woman in a film opposite JLaw, who in most cases would have been given the lead role. I love that she works with (mostly) great directors (Paul Thomas Anderson for everything!) and how she keeps her personal life on lockdown. I love her!

  7. frivolity says:

    The Time 100 is akin to a popularity list that someone draws up in high school. It is meaningless and superficial and should be ignored.

    Here are some meaningful lists:



  8. Kiddo says:

    Time is slowing disappearing. They are doing what every other struggling publication is doing, albeit those others aren’t news organizations, and that is pandering to the masses with popular icons that will sell magazines.

  9. Karen says:

    I don’t think her exclusion means that Times isn’t progressive or that they’re prejudice. Frankly, it’s just a stupid list. Representation is important but you CANNOT win it all. She’s on a hit show and is doing great things in terms of advocacy – that’s more than enough and I’m sure she feels the same way. This constant demand for recognition, as if it’s some sort of right to be honoured by a magazine, is ridiculous. Why must everything be so dramatic?

  10. Mia4S says:

    So they should have included Miley Cyrus when she was winning the person of the year online vote? Time brought this on themselves but when will people learn that these magazines are a function of PR arrangements and sales, not in any way based on merit.

  11. BendyWindy says:

    I’m going to assume it’s because she doesn’t have good name recognition. I follow celeb stuff, and I have no idea who she is. I haven’t seen Orange is the New Black, so I don’t know her and I’m willing to bet most of the people who read TIME don’t either.

  12. Patricia says:

    Laverne reminds me that as people we can do and be something different from what we thought before, that as people we need to listen closely to what is inside.
    I am very comfortable in my gender as a woman. But to me transgender people who speak up about their lives and the changes they went through are encouraging, and it’s not just about gender. I feel encouraged by them to be authentic and make sure I’m not just accepting everything about myself based on my gender, my race, my socioeconomic status, my education level, just all KINDS of things that we accept as true about ourselves without really examining if it feels right or genuine. So many things are changeable if you have the courage, like Laverne had in her gender change.
    Screw the Time list! Laverne doesn’t need it. She’s as inspiration and a source of strength not just for LGBTQ people but for everyone.

  13. Katie says:

    It’s because the poll doesn’t affect the list, thankfully. Otherwise we’d have less than 100,000 people from the same online social circles in the US deciding for 3+million US subscribers plus whatever Time’s global circulation is.

    Time did have a statement to that effect right at the top of the voting page that the editors were still picking the people, it was not hidden at all, but I’m guessing a lot people didn’t bother reading.

  14. msw says:

    The world is an extremely transphobic place. Even the gay community hasn’t fully embraced the trans community. The hate and vitrol thrown that way doesn’t just make me shake my head. It’s scary.

    I love love love Laverne. Its really wonderful she is so front and center right now and bringing visibility and humanization to trans people. Shes a great advocate. Cant wait to see more of her in the new season of OITNB.

  15. taxi says:

    It’s hard to place her on the 100 list if she’s been on only 1 show & a limited audience one at that. A Netflix series gets a much smaller viewing group than TV network series have. HBO & Showtime have bigger audiences than Netflix & OITNB isn’t to everyone’s taste. I think “House of Cards” has more watchers than OITNB.

  16. bokchoi says:

    ground breaking? maaaaybe. perhaps they excluded her not because of her gender but because she is not that well known, despite being “internet famous”

  17. mollie says:

    Because most of the world has no idea who she is.

  18. Annie says:

    The online Time poll was ridiculous. You could vote over and over for the same person (and over and over against whoever you thought was the rival of your object of obsession). The people who got the most votes (except for Cox) were all people who appeal to 15 year olds with lots of time on their hands to vote 1000X for their idol.

    The Cumberbitches went wild too. No way is Cumberbatch one of the world’s 100 most influential people.

    The only actor who deserved the award was McConaughey. He was in 3 critically acclaimed movies in this year alone + a game-changing TV series. And he’s starring in Chris Nolan’s Interstellar. The others were all filler.

    • Maggie says:

      @ Annie

      “The Cumberbitches went wild too. No way is Cumberbatch one of the world’s 100 most influential people.

      The only actor who deserved the award was McConaughey. He was in 3 critically acclaimed movies in this year alone + a game-changing TV series. And he’s starring in Chris Nolan’s Interstellar. The others were all filler.”

      Going by your reasoning, Benedict Cumberbatch was in five movies last year, four of which garnered award recognition and one best picture. He also starred in a controversial movie that flopped but he was almost universally praised for his role. He also starred in a critically acclaimed TV show and has a huge presence on social media without having any social media accounts himself. He is involved in numerous charities and always encourages his fans to give generously to charities he supports or indeed any charity. He is politically and socially aware and will speak out about causes close to his heart.

      I am not defending his inclusion on the list but he belongs there just as much as McConaughey does. I also think some of the reason he polled so highly is the Laverne Cox supporters took it upon themselves to malign him and encouraged everyone to vote against Benedict and a few others. This inflated his negative votes and was an impetus for Benedict’s supporters to try to stem the tide. And of course the poll had no influence on TIME’s list anyway.

      Of course the list is very subjective and there was confusion about the poll but putting others down to raise the profile of another is unfair.