Transgender Barbie doll launched in image of Orange is the New Black star Laverne Cox

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Laverne Cox and the new transgender Barbie doll made in her image
Laverne Cox and the new transgender Barbie doll made in her image

The first transgender Barbie doll has been launched to highlight the importance of "acceptance at every age".

Toy giant Mattel has designed the doll in the image of Laverne Cox, the transgender star of the US prison comedy-drama Orange is the New Black.

Lisa McKnight, executive vice president and global head of Barbie and dolls at Mattel, said the brand "couldn't be more excited" about the new doll, adding: "We are proud to highlight the importance of inclusion and acceptance at every age and to recognize Laverne's significant impact on culture with a tribute collection Barbie.”

Cox, who has received five Emmy nominations as an actor and producer, is one of the most high-profile transgender stars in the US. She said the transgender doll was of huge significance.

Laverne Cox in a scene from the Netflix show Orange is the New Black
Laverne Cox in a scene from the Netflix show Orange is the New Black

"What excites me most about her being out in the world is that trans young people can see her and maybe get to purchase her and play with her, and know that there's a Barbie made by Mattel, for the first time, in the likeness of a trans person," she said.

'I can’t wait for fans to find my doll on shelves'

The star, who was closely involved in the design process of her likeness, added: “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 space of dreaming and manifesting is such a powerful source and leads you to achieve more than what you originally thought was possible."

The Laverne Cox tribute Barbie is dressed in an oxblood corset and tulle skirt, worn over a silver bodysuit, and is wearing high heeled boots.

The Laverne Cox tribute Barbie
The Laverne Cox tribute Barbie

Cox, who turns 50 on Sunday, told People magazine that she was not allowed to play with dolls as a child.

She said: "I begged my mother for a Barbie doll and she said no because I was assigned male at birth.

"And when I was in my 30s, I was in therapy and telling my therapist that I was denied the opportunity to play with Barbie dolls.

"And my therapist said, 'It's never too late to have a happy childhood, and what you should do for your inner child is go out and buy yourself a Barbie doll.'

"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.

"Giving those things to her now. And Barbie is a very tangible part of that. And Barbie has become a symbol of that, in so many ways, that that's healing.

"And I'm so grateful to Mattel for this moment, just for my own, just for my own personal healing."

Barbie was launched in March 1959 as the supposed archetype of the all-American woman, sporting a black-and-white striped bathing suit, pouty red lips and blonde ponytail.

Full name Barbara Millicent Roberts she was the first mass-produced toy doll in the US with adult features.

Over the decades, other incarnations followed, including Astronaut Barrie and in 1967 the first celebrity Barbie, when one was modelled on Twiggy. Cher, Audrey Hepburn, Diana Ross and JK Rowling would follow.

But it took until 1980 before the first African-American Barbie was introduced, along with a Latina Barbie.