Transgender activist and “Orange is the New Black” star Laverne Cox graces the cover of TIME this week as the magazine examines “the radical rise in awareness of transgender Americans and how this movement is reshaping our definitions of gender.”
Of the estimated 1.5 million transgender people in the U.S., nearly one in four say they have lost a job because of their gender identity, and trans activists are now pushing for new policies in schools, hospitals, workplaces and the military.
TIME’s cover story traces this cultural sea change, telling the stories of trans people across America, including Cox, a Google software-engineer, a former National Guardsman and a 17 year-old trans girl who made history as homecoming queen.
“We are in a place now where more and more trans people want to come forward and say, ‘This is who I am.’ And more trans people are willing to tell their stories,” says Cox. “More of us are living visibly and pursuing our dreams visibly, so people can say, ‘Oh yeah, I know someone who is trans.’ When people have points of reference that are humanizing, that demystifies difference.”
Watch a video excerpt of Cox’s interview: