Sophia Burset

Sophia Burset

    Orange Is The New Black
Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Character Analysis

(Avoiding Spoilers)

Living... in Litchfield Penitentiary in New York, for stealing credit cards. Sophia used to be Marcus, a firefighter with a wife and child, but she made the difficult and expensive decision to transition. She stole credits cards to pay for her surgeries, but was turned into the authorities by her son.

Profession... hairdresser and makeup artist. She keeps Red’s hair red and is getting Taystee’s head ready for life on the outside. The guards turn the other way when it comes to her beauty supplies, allowing her to use things stricter correctional officers might call “contraband.”

Interests… makeup and hair care, and remaining as fabulous as possible despite the dire living conditions. She’s one of the few inmates who tries to improve on the bland prison jumpsuits. She even makes sandals out of duct tape. “Couture,” she tells Piper.

Relationship Status...  divorced from Crystal, her ex-wife who supported her through her transition. Their son Michael hasn’t been as accepting, though. He refuses to visit Sophia and displays the same transphobia she faces behind bars. But it hurts more coming from someone she loves.

Challenge... surviving prison. Budget cuts mean the prison has to lower her hormone dosage. Her body responds extremely poorly to the sudden change and she becomes very sick. But maybe she can borrow some hormones from the older nun who takes something similar.
Personality... friendly and helpful to her fellow inmates, but tough and hard-nosed when it comes to the administration. She goes after what she wants, whether it’s her hormone therapy or improved conditions for the women she lives with. “Human beings aren’t supposed to live like this,” she says. So she does makeup and hair for whoever needs it, to try to make everyone feel a little more human.


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