Laverne Cox

Laverne Cox TIME 100 2015
Peter Hapak for TIME

Transgender icon

As a transgender child, I was always looking around for someone like me, because I thought I was the only one. It’s hard to feel like that. But having support from my family changed everything. They helped me love myself and embrace who I am.

Not all trans kids are so lucky. And for them, having someone as visible and strong as Laverne Cox to look up to is inspiring. She’s done so many amazing things—not just acting on Orange Is the New Black but also loving herself enough to share her story with the world. She’s a pioneer for our community.

When Laverne and I met for the first time, it was honestly so exciting. She started screaming like a little girl, because she thought of me as a celebrity! She told me to keep up the good work, and how happy she was about my success. Now I want to do the same for her. Laverne, I love you and I’m so proud of you and you’re definitely making a difference. Keep it up!

Jennings, 14, is an author, advocate and star of a forthcoming TLC docuseries

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