Transgender actress and activist Laverne Cox gave a young trans man the surprise of a lifetime on Wednesday’s episode of Fearless, a digital series from Ellen DeGeneres that appears on Ellentube and ishosted by model Ashley Graham. Cox sat down for an emotional meeting with Rickey, a 25-year-old transgender man living in Kansas City, Missouri, who had never met another openly trans person before that moment.
Rickey told Graham he’s “still working on his confidence,” since beginning his transition a year ago. “I used to get up, like 5:00, in the morning to take showers so I wouldn’t have to look at myself in the mirror,” he revealed.
The 25-year-old hasn’t received top surgery, a gender-affirming procedure for trans men that creates a masculine chest. He wears hoodies to mask the appearance of his breasts.
“The hoodies, it’s to hide my chest because I have to bind, and it makes me flat-chested and they don’t know,” Rickey said. “Top surgery will make me more confident in myself because I feel trapped right now. But this is who I am, and I don’t have to hide it anymore.”
After listening to his coming out story, Graham told Rickey she wanted to introduce him to “a friend who has gone through something … that can relate to you in a much deeper way.”
The pair walked through the hall, and Cox appeared from around a corner. Rickey broke down in tears from the surprise, and both Graham and the Orange Is the New Black star became emotional. The 25-year-old recovered from the moment, then disclosed that Cox was “the first” trans person he had met.
“If you have one person in your life who supports you and loves you for who you are, hold on to that person,” Cox told the young man. “We want you to know you are no longer alone.”
The trans advocate then offered Rickey $10,000 to continue with his transition journey.
Cox added, “Everyone should be able to actualize themselves, and our journey is a little bit different than other people’s, but it’s the same journey. We’re just trying to be the best us we can be.”
The episode was shared during Transgender Awareness Week, which takes place from Nov. 12–19 to “help raise the visibility of transgender and gender nonconforming people, and address the issues the community faces.”
To promote the segment, Cox wrote about the emotional meeting.
“I am just so overwhelmed reliving getting to meet Rickey and being the first trans person Rickey has ever met in person,” she said. “Thank you @ashleygraham for introducing me to Rickey on your new show #Fearless for #Ellentube. Thank you Rickey for inspiring me and being a huge part of why I do what I do.”
Watch Fearless every Wednesday on Ellentube.com .
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Christina Santi is a news and culture writer for EBONY.com. Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, she considers herself a well-read, not so traditional feminist with a heavy interest in music, fashion and pop culture. Christina currently lives in New York City, where she refers to her Cuban & Jamaican descent often while writing about her experiences as a first-generation Afro-Latinx in America. She also devotes time writing personalized reading material for her tutees and turning ideas into words for streetwear brand, PUER By Noel Bronson.