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UPDATED: Laverne Cox to Speak at Boston College

UPDATE: Jan. 27, 2016 3:30 p.m.: Laverne Cox will no longer be coming to speak at Boston College this semester due to scheduling complications regarding her role in the new "Rocky Horror Picture Show" film.  As such, she has cancelled all speaking engagements between February and April.  Cox begins filming in February and will finish on May 7.

Laverne Cox—Orange Is the New Black actress, Emmy nominee, and LGBT advocate—is coming to speak at Boston College on Monday, Feb. 15.

The event has been organized by the GLBTQ Leadership Council (GLC)  and is sponsored by the Women's Center, CAB, the Thea Bowman AHANA Intercultural Center, and the African and African Diaspora Studies Department. Tickets will be free and can be picked up at Robsham Theater beginning Wednesday, Feb. 10. Only one ticket will be allowed per BCID.  

In her talk, Laverne will share her story, discussing how the complex intersections of race, class, and gender particularly affect trans women of color. Her story will begin with her Christian upbringing in Mobile, Alabama, will transition into attending college and pursuing acting in New York City, and will ultimately highlight how she found the courage to embrace womanhood, transcend gender expectations, and live a more wholesome life.

In order to have the administrators approve such a high profile speaker, Nick Minieri, GLC Chair, wanted to first and foremost frame her visit within BC’s Jesuit mission. “The Jesuit tradition encourages an appreciation of the ‘whole person,’” he says, “Which, in our opinion, includes the contemplation and understanding of transgender individuals like Laverne Cox.”

UGBC President Thomas Napoli, A&S ‘16, Executive Vice President Olivia Hussey, A&S ‘17, and Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion Afua Laast, LSOE ‘16, were quickly on board. Afua and Nick proceeded to create the proposal they used to garner on-campus sponsors. Having sponsors across campus not only helped with raising funds for Ms. Cox's visit, but also demonstrated the wide appeal that such a speaker would have to the entire student body.

Once the school year began, Afua and Nick met with their Office of Student Involvement (OSI) advisors who then proceeded to get approval from the Office of Dean of Students and Division of Student Affairs. Later, OSI got responded with the news that Laverne had been approved. The contract was created and signed by both parties early last semester.

Laverne will be the third transgender speaker GLC has brought to BC in the past three years: Writer and TV host Janet Mock visited in April 2013, and YouTube personality Skylar Kergil came last semester. Additionally, Star Trek actor George Takei and fashion consultant Clinton Kelly both came to speak last year as well. Though it is unlikely that GLC or UGBC can invite a speaker as prominent as Laverne every year, it is clear that BC has demonstrated a willingness to have LGBT speakers come to campus and advocate the cause.

“This event will show current and future trans students that they are welcome on this campus. GLC hopes to continue to expand our transgender programming and increase resources on campus,” said Nick. “The event will reach many students who do not normally attend GLC events, and we hope they will learn the importance of understanding gender identity and ending transphobia on campus.”

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Pei-Ling Lee