Laverne Cox tried to commit suicide by swallowing pills when she was 11 years old


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Laverne Cox is riding high these days, having just gotten a cover of Time Magazine and with the return of Orange Is the New Black on Netflix today. But Laverne’s proudest role is probably as a trans advocate and activist. But she remembers a darker time, when she was bullied mercilessly as a kid, to the point where she attempted suicide at the age of 11:

Orange Is the New Black’s Laverne Cox is proud of her emergence as a role model for the LGBT community thanks to her role as a transgender hairstylist on the Netflix series, but getting there wasn’t easy.

“I was taunted at school — I was even attacked,” she says, revealing that at just 11 years old, she felt so hopeless that she swallowed a bottle of pills before bed, hoping not to wake up. “It was part of my journey that got me to where I am now,” she says. “I’m happy now.”

[From In Touch Weekly]

Well, I’m glad Laverne is happy now. Laverne has been opening up more and more about her difficult childhood – she also referenced her suicide attempt in a recent Buzzfeed interview, although she didn’t specify that she took a bottle of pills.

Unfortunately, Laverne’s still dealing with dumbasses, jerks and bullies. There was a kerfuffle this week when conservative columnist Kevin D. Williamson wrote a piece called “Laverne Cox Is Not a Real Woman”you can read it here if you have a high tolerance for bile. Williamson refers to Laverne throughout the piece as “he” and “him”. It would have been bad enough for that piece to only find a home at the National Review. But the Chicago Sun-Times printed it as well, then the Sun-Times had to retract it and offer an apology. Williamson is sticking with his bile though. The Frisky had an excellent takedown of Williamson’s piece as well – go here to read.

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Photos courtesy of WENN, Time Magazine.

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40 Responses to “Laverne Cox tried to commit suicide by swallowing pills when she was 11 years old”

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  1. Hannah says:

    11 years old! Wow… that’s seriously shocking! How awful!

  2. Chris says:

    Good luck to her. She obviously has a lot of courage.

  3. Kiddo says:

    “The column failed to acknowledge that the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association have deemed transgender-related care medically necessary for transgender people.” Enough said. We have too many people writing opinion pieces which ignore facts in evidence but rely on personal bias instead. Having read this statement, it’s pointless to indulge Williamson’s take down article, all emotion aside.

  4. Kenny Boy says:

    Nice that you didn’t refer to her as simply “a transsexual”. Too bad this website can’t extend that same courtesy to less famous trans women.

    • Kiddo says:

      How so, Kenny? I ask sincerely as I don’t know what person you are speaking of.

      • Tiffany :) says:

        I don’t want to speak for Kenny, but perhaps they are referring to articles about JLo and Casper Smart? Supposedly Casper was texting people who some sites have referred to with those terms.

  5. GiGi says:

    So sad! My friend’s child is transitioning now at age 6. The attend a very conservative church, but they have been welcomed by that community because everyone has known this child since birth. There was never a question that this child was trangender so people have just embraced this family and their journey. I wish that the process was that smooth for everyone. Obviously there are still struggles, but you cannot underestimate the support of your community!

    • lucy2 says:

      That’s nice to hear, that their community has been so supportive.

      Laverne’s story is so sad, which makes it even more amazing how strong and happy she is today. It’s hard enough growing up, I can’t imagine what a kid going through that must feel.

    • Side-Eye says:

      If you don’t mind me asking how did you determine the child was transgender? Six seems a very young to know for sure something so serious. I would think it’s hard to tell a child’s sexuality at six, let alone their gender since children don’t typically think of things in that manner.

      • msw says:

        Sure they do. We live in an extremely gender normative society and this does not escape children at all. I agree most children don’t have much concept of sexuality, but that isn’t related to gender identity. My (cis) daughter has identified as a girl since she was a toddler. I’ve heard of many trans children who have identified as the opposite of their birth gender from a similar age. We also don’t know if gender is an entirely social construct yet.

        Bottom line, we assign gender based on external genital features, and we aren’t always right.

      • GiGi says:

        Sure. Because this isn’t about sexuality, it’s about gender. Of course this child isn’t expressing sexual interest. Transgender is completely different from who you’re attracted to.

        Transgender is a diagnosis not a feeling. This child has spent a few years being miserable while having to dress as the sex they were born. (Sorry about the grammar, but I’m trying to be vague). Not unhappy, truly miserable. This child has seen specialists and psychologists and therapists and been to all manner of clinics. And, believe me, this child is far from the youngest child at the playgroups.

        In fact, another friend’s child transitioned right after high school and she’s said that she’s the unusual one as most children transition much sooner.

      • here's Wilson says:

        I’m wondering about this too… do children of six have self awareness regarding their bodies and sexuality? it seems really young…. and I’m curious what a child of that age is doing to transition??

      • GiGi says:

        @Wilson – Prepubescent children transition by living full time as the sex they should be, not the sex they were born. I believe right before puberty other measures can be taken as far as hormone therapies. Usually surgical options are saved for adulthood, although some transgender people never opt for surgery.

      • GiGi says:

        This hospital has a Gender Identity Clinic which has been wonderful for so many families.

        For more info on Gender Nonconforming, Gender Questioning and Transgender children – go here.

        https://www.luriechildrens.org/en-us/care-services/conditions-treatments/gender-development/Pages/index.aspx

      • msw says:

        @here’s Wilson: children start showing an interest in their body at a much younger age than six. All you have to reference is Freud’s life stages to see that interest in their own genitalia is established way before that. (I’m no Freudian, but my point is this is one of the most established areas of life stage development, and for good reason.)

        Also, sexuality is absolutely NOT synonymous with being transgender. They are completely distinct concepts which children generally don’t have experience with, but it in no way means a child can’t feel a strong sense of gender identity. Most kids will have a pretty strong idea of whether they are a boy or a girl at a very young age. We just don’t question it with cis kids; in fact, we expect it as a normal part of development. Questioning trans kids’s sense of identity and not cis kids is kind of like asking how you know you’re gay if you’ve never slept with a person of the same sex.

        I hope this doesn’t come off as attacking and I don’t mean it that way. just genuinely trying to address your comment and others.

      • Lucky says:

        It, as I understand it, isn’t about sexuality- but gender which is totally different. You could be trans and gay for example. So as a six year old it wouldn’t be about attraction yet but identifying as a boy/ girl

      • Bread and Circuses says:

        My hairdresser once told me how her friend’s four-year-old was pretty clear on it from a very young age. He kept saying to his parents, “I think God made a mistake. I think I’m supposed to be a girl.” And every night, while he said his prayers, he would ask to be made a girl.

        It really surprised me too, when she told me. I also didn’t think a child that young would be aware enough to realize they weren’t living in the right-shaped body.

  6. QQ says:

    I cant believe an editor didnt flag that Trasnphobic article and shut it down before it went to print, that is Fucknuts!

    in related news I might spend my a.m. Watching OITNB at work! Whoop!

  7. Cupcake says:

    11 years old? This makes me so sad.

    • LadySlippers says:

      Not uncommon though.

      • Birdix says:

        For a suicide attempt? Below age 14 it’s very rare. It’s sad thinking of a 5th grade kid that miserable.

      • GiGi says:

        Didn’t Wentworth Miller express the same – wanting to die at age 5 and having suicide attempts very young? Correct me if I’m wrong but I think I remember that.

      • Amy Tennant says:

        I was 12 my first time. :(

      • mayamae says:

        I was 16. I woke up alive and just carried on. Didn’t tell anyone for years. It seems strange now.

      • Cas says:

        Amy Tennant, mayamae, I’m so sorry you had to go through this *offers internet hugs*

        I was 13 the first time, there’ve been more, but I’m starting to figure things out now. I’ve read (and been told in a support group for trans* people) that depression can start with the onset of puberty if the brain expects one sex hormone and gets a different one. I have to do some more research on this, but to me, it sounds plausible (and eerily familiar). (Not trying to say that there must be a reason to be depressed or trying to diminish anyone’s experiences!)

      • Amy Tennant says:

        (Internet hugs for Cas and Mayamae) I’m glad you guys are here. (I’m also glad to see your 20-siders, Cas — good to know I’m not the only gamer geek on here).

      • Cas says:

        @Amy Tennant: Woohoo, gamer geeks unite!

        (That might be the reason CB is the only gossip site I read. I just like the crowd here and the discussions are usually civil and intelligent.)

      • G. says:

        My childhood best friend had multiple attempts before 15. It never ceases to shock me how young that is/was.

      • V says:

        I was 11 and used an entire bottle of Tylenol PM with codeine. It was my third attempt and I used pills because hanging and suffocation hadn’t worked when I was 9. Age doesn’t diminish the understanding that your life isn’t supposed to be the way it is OR that death is a way to end that pain.

      • mayamae says:

        Thanks Amy & Cas. I really didn’t give any warning symptoms for my parents to catch. It was not a cry for help it was a serious attempt. So one of the reasons I didn’t tell my mom was because I knew full well I would be committed and that wasn’t in my plans.

        It really only lasted one year. The following year my dad died, but I had reached a really good place and had a tight group of fans, that it ended up being both the best year and worst year of my life.

        Amy & V, I hope you’re in a better place right now. Sometimes talking anonymously makes it a little easier.

      • Lauraq says:

        I attempted a few times when I was 11 and 12.

  8. Really says:

    Facebook has a video about a family who transitioned their child at 5. Amazing story opened my eyes up to this. Not that you can believe everything online, it stated 40% of transgender people attempt suicide. It’s unfortunately very common.

  9. Ag says:

    that’s so sad, holy crap. i’m glad that she’s well now. as a mom, i’d never want my child to go through such pain – hopefully he will feel free to be who he wants to be.

  10. Tiffany :) says:

    Not that transgender and homosexuality are the same thing at all, but I heard this crazy thing on NPR and this seems like the best article to share.

    They were talking about the “gay gene” and they were saying that the name is misleading. It is actually a “attracted to males” gene. Both women and men can have this gene. So it isn’t that a gene will make you “gay”, rather genes can determine who you are attracted to.

  11. Missy says:

    She is absolutely stunning!

  12. Lauraq says:

    On a purely scientific level, I do believe that one will always be the sex they are born-simply because you cannot change chromosomes. That’s why I was annoyed by the ‘pregnant man’ thing Oprah trotted out a few years ago.
    That being said, I realize the distinction between sex and gender, and I will always refer to people as what they identify by. Because I am a Christian and compassion was a big thing to Jesus.