US: Laverne Cox apologises for reading letter by a trans inmate convicted of rape

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Actress and activist Laverne Cox recently apologised for participating in a video in which she read a letter by a convicted rapist.

Cox was approached by the Sylvia Rivera Law Project to read a letter from a transgender inmate, highlighting the harmful prison conditions trans people face while incarcerated.

The letter was written by Synthia China Blast. In 1993, Blast was found guilty of the rape and abuse of a 13-year-old girl named Ebony Williams.

According to 1993 news reports, the girl was held captive in the apartment of Blast’s accomplice Carlos Franco.

Blast repeatedly slashed and raped the girl. Franco then killed the girl by breaking her neck.

Both Blast and Franco, who were members of the Latin Kings gang, are serving life prison sentences.

Cox says she was unaware of Blast’s crime when she agreed to participate in the project.

The Sylvia Rivera Law Project removed the video at Cox’s request, and Cox posted on Tumblr about the incident.

Cox wrote: “[I]t is important for me to let you know that I have never, nor would I ever, support abuse or violence against anyone, especially a child like Ebony Nicole Williams.

“This is something I unequivocally do not support.

“My intention was to highlight the horrific conditions many trans people experience during incarceration — to shed a light where often there is only darkness.”

The Sylvia Rivera Law Project wrote a blog post about the incident as well.

In the post, the organisation reaffirmed their support for Blast, stating no matter her conviction, she should not be punished as a result of her gender identity while incarcerated.

Cox recently joined a campaign against a Phoenix law which unfairly targets trans women of colour as suspected sex workers.

Cox was a longtime supporter of trans inmate CeCe McDonald, who was released from prison in January after being convicted of killing a man in self-defence against an alleged hate crime.