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Laverne Cox honored with first-ever transgender Barbie doll

(Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

Story at a glance

  • The award-winning producer, actress and LGBTQ+ activist Laverne Cox has been given her own Barbie doll.

  • It’s the first time toy manufacturer Mattel, which owns Barbie, has released a transgender Barbie doll.

  • Cox’s doll comes during a year in which hundreds of bills introduced in state legislatures have targeted LGBTQ+ people, particularly transgender youth.

Actress, producer, writer and activist Laverne Cox has partnered with toymaker Mattel to create a Tribute Collection Barbie in her likeness, available just ahead of Cox’s 50th birthday. It’s the first time a Barbie doll has been modeled after a transgender woman.

The doll honors the ever-glamorous Cox, who in 2013 made history as the first transgender woman of color to land a leading role in a scripted television series on Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black,” with a scarlet corset and tule skirt worn over a sparkling silver catsuit. The Emmy-award winning producer said creating her own Barbie doll has been a “full-circle” experience.

“I’m just so grateful that I’ve been able to be in this process. It’s a process of reclaiming my inner child, healing her, giving her what she didn’t have the first go-round,” Cox said Tuesday in an interview with People Magazine. “So to be turning 50 years old and be transgender and have a Barbie in my life, that feels just like a full-circle kind of healing moment.”

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Cox told People she wasn’t allowed to play with Barbie dolls as a child and was told by her mother to take up more traditionally masculine pursuits. Later, when Cox was in her 30s, she was told by a therapist to purchase a Barbie doll for herself, telling her ‘It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.”

Now, Cox’s mother sends her a Barbie doll for Christmas and her birthday, Cox said.

The star’s doll comes less than halfway through a year in which hundreds of bills targeting LGBTQ+ people – particularly transgender youth – have been introduced in state legislatures nationwide, a fact that has not gone unnoticed by Cox.

“In this environment where trans kids are being attacked … this can also be a celebration of transness, and also a space for them to dream, understand and be reminded that trans is beautiful,” she told People. “That there’s hope and possibility for them to be themselves.”

A law criminalizing gender-affirming health care for transgender and nonbinary minors recently took effect in Cox’s home state of Alabama. The measure makes it a felony – punishable by up to a decade in prison — to provide or recommend puberty blockers, hormone therapies or other gender-affirming medical interventions to patients that are younger than 19 years old.

A federal judge earlier this month partially blocked the state’s felony ban through a preliminary injunction.

The Laverne Cox Tribute Barbie can be purchased for $40 at MattelCreations, Walmart, Target and Amazon, where it is already a No. 1 release.