Respect Diversity + Inclusion

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.”


America is changing faster than ever! Add Changing America to your Facebook or Twitter feed to stay on top of the news.


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.