Mattel creates the first transgender Barbie doll after Laverne Cox


Mattel creates the first transgender Barbie doll after Laverne Cox

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Emmy-winning actress and LGBTQ rights activist Laverne Cox is the first transgender person to have a Barbie doll designed after her, at a time when advocates are warning that transgender rights are being eroded in the United States States and abroad are legally attacked.

Cox pointed to the challenges facing the LGBTQ community — particularly for young transgender people — while promoting the doll on NBC’s Today show this week. “I hope all children who feel stigmatized when their health care is at risk give hope to their ability to exercise [is curtailed]I hope they can see this Barbie and feel a sense of hope and possibility,” she said.

GOP lawmakers have introduced nearly 200 state bills this year aimed at undermining protections for transgender and gay youth or restricting discussion of LGBTQ issues in public schools, the Washington Post reported in March.

Cox, whose acting breakthrough came in Orange Is the New Black, is one of the Western world’s most prominent transgender activists, and her ability to “go beyond societal expectations to live more authentically” has been praised by Barbie maker Mattel . Cox has spoken publicly about her struggles as a black transgender woman and has supported other trans people fighting restrictive laws.

Tinu Naija, a New York-based Barbie enthusiast, said she ordered the Cox doll, which will be worn in a crimson corset over a dress and silver jumpsuit, as soon as it was announced. She felt the doll was not an exact likeness of Cox, but called the symbolism “monumental.”

“The inclusion of a transgender personality for children and adult doll collectors is groundbreaking,” Naija said in an interview. “That’s even bigger than Laverne Cox himself. This would carry over for many generations to come.”

The Cox Barbie is currently one of the best selling dolls on Amazon. (The Post is owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.)

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In recent years, states with Republican-majority legislatures and GOP governors have attempted to restrict transgender rights. According to Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy group, a record number of such bills were introduced in 2021.

states like South Carolina, South Dakota and Arizona have laws prohibiting transgender girls and women from competing on many women’s sports teams. Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) signed a bill into law this week requiring public school students to use the restroom that matches the gender on their birth certificates.

Alabama has attempted to make gender-affirming grooming a crime, though a federal judge was quick to block the move this month. The Texas Supreme Court recently issued a nuanced ruling on Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s order for child welfare officials to investigate gender-affirming child care as “child abuse.”

Proponents have criticized such laws for targeting an already marginalized group. Utah Gov. Spencer Cox (R) vetoed a transgender athlete bill earlier this year, citing the mental health impact it could have on young people in the state.

Advocates say more people in the United States are identifying as transgender and nonbinary, but a 2021 Pew Research Center poll showed sharp partisan disagreements over whether greater societal acceptance of transgender people was a positive development.

The fight for transgender rights has also spread to Australia, where Conservative parliamentary candidate Katherine Deves was defeated over the weekend. Her campaign was closely linked to anti-transgender statements she had made, including comparing the gender reassignment procedure to mutilation. Equality Australia said her loss was “a startling rebuke of divisive politics” in public.

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