Staley, Erin. Laverne Cox. Rosen Publishing. 2017. $27.85. 112p. HC. ISBN 978-1-5081-7159-1.
This very short biography is extended with sidebars of general information about people who are transgender and, following page 90, a timeline, glossary, list of organizations, suggested readings, and bibliography of the author’s research, in addition to the index. The publisher promises more resources online.
Staley addresses a variety of serious issues through Cox’s experiences, for example, media stereotypes of transgender people, violence against transgender people, and the intersections of race, economic class, and gender. The account of Cox’s childhood struggles will appeal to many young readers. At the same time, there is a lot of celebrity trivia like having an ice cream flavor named for her. And the majority of the illustrations are publicity photos. Nevertheless, Cox comes through as an intelligent and determined woman, a “possibility model,” as she puts it.
All four titles in Rosen’s series, “Transgender Pioneers,” are biographies of entertainment celebrities, presumably because they are most likely to be asked for by name. The publisher is aiming at middle school readers where this book will certainly fill a gap. Finding Laverne Cox in school and public libraries will be affirming for young people who may have experienced gender policing and will enlighten those who are curious.
Carolyn Caywood, retired from Virginia Beach Public Library