Allure.com

Laverne Cox has had a hell of a year. The actress and transgender activist recently posed nude for Allure magazine, even though she initially had reservations about doing so.

“I said no initially, thought about it, and said no again,” she said.” “But I’m a black transgender woman. I felt this could be really powerful for the communities that I represent. Black women are not often told that we’re beautiful unless we align with certain standards. Trans women certainly are not told we’re beautiful. Seeing a black transgender woman embracing and loving everything about her body might be inspiring for some folks. There’s a beauty in the things we think are imperfect. It sounds very cliché, but its true."

Watching Cox kick down barriers is indeed empowering for many, and it's also easy to see how she might be ready for a vacation. Aside from her powerful role on Orange Is The New Black, which was just renewed for a fourth season, Cox was cast in new CBS legal drama Doubt, where she'll play an Ivy league-educated transgender attorney. She produced and was the host for a documentary that premiered in October on MTV and Logo about transgender youth. Beyoncé sent her a Christmas card.

After her groundbreaking turn on the cover of Time, Cox was featured in The New York Times last May, where she talked about growing up in Alabama and her family's reaction to her transition, and she had no problem correcting Gayle King (a.k.a. Oprah's best friend) when she said "So you were born a boy…" during an interview.  Cox sat down with feminist theorist and personal hero bell hooks in October to talk about race, gender, and pop culture, and then rocked the runway at New York Fashion Week in February.

For Cox, being an activist is an inherent part of just being herself, and finding the confidence to do that Allure photoshoot is meaningful in so many ways. "I honestly just want to make myself happy most, and if other people like it, then that's great. If they don't, then I'm still happy."

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Danielle Henderson is a lapsed academic, heavy metal karaoke machine, and culture editor at Fusion. She enjoys thinking about how race, gender, and sexuality shape our cultural narratives, but not in a boring way.