Laverne Cox has a lot on her shoulders. In addition to being the most visible trans actress in mainstream media, she’s also taken on the mantle of being a spokesperson for the movement, in lieu of a sane, non-Republican Caitlyn Jenner-figure taking the wheel.
So we can definitely forgive her if her career moves have been questionable as of late.
First there was the Rocky Horror remake, slammed by critics for being a hollow version of the shocking original. Then there was the llate lamented Doubt, pulled from the air after two episodes. But now, it looks like Cox is getting back on track with a new project for ABC, a starring role alongside Elizabeth Banks in the buddy-cop show “The Trustee.”
Here’s the cool part: Cox’s role wasn’t written with a trans woman in mind.
Does it mean that mainstream media is ready to start casting trans folks in all kinds of roles? Well, no. Not exactly. It means Cox has proved herself as more than a flash in the pan. She’s going to be around for awhile, and media better goddamn fix itself to address that fact.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s a pretty fantastic thing. But it’s not exactly the progressive sign we’d like to take it for. This is a year when we’ve seen a lot of progress in terms of trans and gender nonconforming folks in media. On the flip side, we’re still talking about bathrooms almost daily. And Donald Trump is in the White House. So let’s keep it cautiously optimistic for now. Cox will do great things with “The Trustee”, but it’s going to be a minute before trans actors come anywhere close–on a grand scale–to finding a true place for themselves in the famously biased film and TV industry.