The Orange Is the New Black actress was given a toy in her likeness just before her 50th birthday.

Laverne Cox wasn't allowed to play with dolls growing up — now, she's getting one based on her.

Barbie's newest friend, part of Mattel's Tribute Collection, honors the actress and LGBTQ rights activist.

"I'm just so grateful that I've been able to be in this process," Cox told PEOPLE. "It's a process of reclaiming my inner child, healing her, giving her what she didn't have the first go-round. Barbie is a very tangible part of that."

Cox explained, "I begged my mother for a Barbie doll and she said no because I was assigned male at birth."

In her 30s, following advice from her therapist, Cox bought a Barbie doll. "I played with my Barbie, and I told my mom what my therapist had said," she recalled. "And that first Christmas after that, my mom sent me a Barbie doll. And she's been sending me Barbies for Christmas and for my birthday."

She continued, "So to be turning 50 years old and be transgender and have a Barbie in my life, that feels just like a full-circle kind of healing moment."

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Laverne Cox poses with a Barbie doll based on her.
| Credit: Elizabeth Braunstein/Mattel

The Inventing Anna actress hopes that other transgender people feel a sense of "healing" when they find her doll in stores and see that now "there's a Barbie made by Mattel, for the first time, in the likeness of a trans person."

Of choosing to celebrate Cox's impact, Lisa McKnight, executive vice president and global head of Barbie and Dolls at Mattel, said the brand's priority is to "highlight the importance of inclusion and acceptance at every age."

Cox noted that the current political climate adds to the significance of the doll's release. "I think in an environment where trans children have been used as a political football, when over 250 pieces of anti-trans legislation have been introduced in state legislatures all over the country in 2022 alone, and access to gender-affirming health care has been denied by policies signed into law in my home state of Alabama, in Arkansas, and other states... That in this environment where trans kids are being attacked, that this can also be a celebration of transness, and also a space for them to dream, understand, and be reminded that trans is beautiful."

The doll comes with two glamorous outfits — her regal maroon corset dress is layered over a sparkly silver jumpsuit for easy quick changes. The Emmy-winning producer was involved in the design process from, literally, head to toe.

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The Laverne Cox Tribute Collection Barbie doll
| Credit: Mattel

"I was like, 'Can we make her look more like me? And more African American?'" Cox said of working with Mattel. "And we had a conversation about highlights and lowlights because I'm blonde most of the time now, but I'm a Black girl, so I need a dark root. And we had a whole conversation about how they can't do that, but they could do dark lowlights."

The Laverne Cox doll is being sold now at major retailers and is available at

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