Policy

LaVerne Cox Advocates for LGBT Data with Dems

The transgender actress spoke about the need for better information

Laverne Cox calledfor federal surveys to include data on sexual orientation and gender identity. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Actress LaVerne Cox joined Democratic members of Congress to advocate for better data collection of LGBT individuals.  

Cox, an actress on the popular show "Orange is the New Black," was invited by Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., in support of legislation he introduced in May to better track people LGBT in Census and federal data.  

"While the transgender community is becoming increasingly visible in society, the Census and federal surveys continue to disregard our existence," Grijalva said. "If you’re not counted, you don’t count."  

Cox, who is transgender, said that the lack of data is tied to the passing of laws like North Carolina's bill that prevents transgender people from using the restroom corresponding to their gender identity.  

"I believe that misinformation is allowed to bespread about people who are transgender because we don't haveactual data around who trans people are," Cox said. "We don't have accurate numbers about how many transgender people live in the United States because we don't ask about gender identity numbers."  

House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., made a joke about Cox's character on "Orange is the New Black," where Cox plays a prison inmate named Sophia Burset.  

Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif., said while he did not think that the legislation could pass through the current Congress, he compared it to when Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, when he was only one of 67 House members to vote against it.  

"While today we may not have the votes to pass this legislation in this Congress, I guarantee you in the future, we will," Becerra said.  

The press conference comes as the House of Representatives is having its own battle about bathrooms for transgender people.  

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, proposed an amendment that would prevent transgender bathrooms on Capitol Hill. But House Rules Committee Chairman Rep. Pete Sessions said there would likely not be a vote on the amendment.  

Rep Dina Titus, D-Nev., spoke about the fight for transgender bathrooms in the House of Representatives.  

"I say to LaVerne or to anybody else, if you feel uncomfortable to any of the bathrooms here, come to my office," she said.  

Contact Garcia at EricGarcia@cqrollcall.com and follow himon Twitterat @EricMGarcia .  

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