This article was published on June 4th, 2022
Transgender actress and activist Laverne Cox has been honoured with her own Barbie doll, the first to be modelled after a trans person.
Toy company, Mattel, which designed the doll cited Cox’s impact as an advocate for LGBTQ+ rights as the reason for the doll’s creation.
“It’s been a dream for years to work with Barbie to create my own doll,” Cox said.
“I can’t wait for fans to find my doll on shelves and have the opportunity to add a Barbie doll modelled after a transgender person to their collection. I hope that people can look at this Barbie and dream big like I have in my career.”
The ground-breaking toy is being called a big step forward for the visibility of trans people and the representation of trans identities.
The doll, which currently goes for $40, is designed to reflect Cox’s personal style, featuring the star in a red gown over a sparkly catsuit. Ms. Cox worked closely with Mattel in the creative design and execution of the doll. She noted that she didn’t want the Barbie to be limited to only one look.
“I was like, ‘What if we did a look that peeled?'” Cox told E! News.
“She gives you a catsuit fantasy, honey,” she said. “Transgender Barbie is in effect. She’s giving you looks. She’s giving you everything.
Laverne’s doll is part of Mattel’s Tribute Collection, which aims to recognise visionaries who have made an impact on culture and society.
Laverne herself is a trailblazer in her own right, having risen to fame as an actress and activist for transgender rights. She was the first trans person to be cast in a leading role on a mainstream network television show (Orange Is The New Black), and the first trans person to be nominated for an Emmy Award. She’s also had a successful career as a producer, writer and musician, has acted in several films and documentaries, written two books and has been featured in many magazines.
She said she hoped the doll would inspire children and remind parents to support kids of all gender identities who want to play with dolls.
“It’s incredibly meaningful for me to have my Barbie doll for so many reasons,” she said. “I hope that kids of all gender identities can look at this Barbie and dream.”
This is an exciting time for trans visibility in the media, which has long struggled to represent trans people accurately or respectfully. Trans people have always existed, but only recently have they been depicted in mainstream media with any sort of nuance or realism.
Shows like Transparent are helping to erase stereotypes about gender identity and expression, proving that trans people aren’t monstrous or perverted—they’re just regular people living their lives and loving others.
“We are proud to highlight the importance of inclusion and acceptance at every age,” said Lisa McKnight, Executive Vice President and Global Head of Barbie and Dolls at Mattel.
The Barbie brand has previously made dolls based on real-life women like Frida Kahlo and Amelia Earhart in order to celebrate female role models. Laverne Cox is now part of the same collection, along with fashion designer Vera Wang and TV icon Lucille Ball.
Barbie has traditionally fallen under criticism for its lack of diversity, which seems to be changing with each new addition to the Tribute Collection. The collection features more than 20 dolls in all, including one that honours NASA’s Katherine Johnson—the first African American woman to have worked as a mathematician at NASA.