Transgender people are no longer hiding in their closets. They are proudly expressing their sexuality out in the open and making great strides in numerous fields such as the fashion industry and in the competitive cut-throat world of business. These transgender celebrities have gone above and beyond to fulfill their dreams and attain success. Have a look at them and get prepared to be inspired!
1. Andreja Pejic
Andreja grabbed headlines unheard of when she made it as one of the Top 50 Male Models and ranked the 100 Sexiest Women in the World in the same year in 2011. She was discovered by talent scouts at the age of 16 while working at a McDonald’s in Melbourne. Some of her accomplishments include featuring in Vogue magazine and strutting down the runway for Marc Jacobs, Michalsky and Jean-Paul Gaultier. When she got her reassignment surgery in September 2014, she said, “I thought about being gay, but it didn’t fit…I thought, Well, maybe this.”
2. Caroline “Tula” Cossey
Caroline has the distinct honor of being the first transgender model to feature in Playboy and essay the role of a Bond girl. Raised a male, Caroline starting receiving hormone therapy when she was 17-years-old and, thus, began living the life of a woman. Her supportive family were by her side when she got her sex reassignment surgery on December 31, 1974. Caroline made an appearance in the 1981 James Bond flick, For Your Eyes Only, and was featured in the 1991 September issue of Playboy magazine. The model has voiced her struggles to the media, “The biggest step wasn’t going out in public wearing female clothes and make-up, but rather getting my ears pierced. Back then in 1971, it wasn’t just a case of men didn’t get their ears pierced, but most women didn’t either. But, I wanted to look pretty and wear earrings.”
3. Thomas Beatie
Thomas Beatie is often identified as the first man to give birth. People have fondly labelled him, “The Pregnant Man.” The Trans man had a gender reassignment surgery in 2002 but later retained his female reproductive organs to give birth after finding out that his wife, Nancy Beatie was infertile. Beatie was pregnant with a triplet. The duo has since gone their separate ways and now share custody of their children. Thomas now plans on marrying his present girlfriend, Amber Nicholas. She has been quoted saying, “My friends, they’re kind of always joking and asking questions like, ‘How did this happen? How does this work?’ Just funny things but really my friends and family are very supportive of us and they love Thomas.”
4. Alexis Arquette
Alexis is the sister of David and Patricia Arquette. The actress has starred in several movies and TV shows such as The Wedding Singer, Last Exit to Brooklyn, and The Surreal Life etc. Patricia has spoken publicly about how her brother has always gravitated towards femininity, “I remember Alexis growing up, and we’d be in school in kindergarten, and they’d say, ‘Get in line, boys here, girls here.’ Alexis would always get in the girls’ line.” Alexis does not keep her feelings oppressed, “I realized I’m not the kind of person who wants to go with the flow and fit in. I’m an agitator, I’m opinionated, and I’m a libertine and leader.”
5. Janet Mock
Janet Mock shocked the world in 2011 when she revealed that she was, in fact, a Trans woman. She was working as a staff editor at People magazine during the time. Janet initially started her working career as a sex worker when she was only 16. After saving up, she enrolled herself at the University of Hawaii at Manoa for her Bachelor of Arts in Fashion Merchandising. She would eventually obtain her Masters degree in Journalism from the New York University. The woman had a sex reassignment surgery in Thailand when she was only 18.
6. Chaz Bono
Born Chastity Bono on March 4, 1969, Chaz is the only child of famous singers, Cher and Sonny. Chaz originally identified himself as a lesbian. He would only alter his birth name to Chaz after his transition in 2008. The transgender man is now an advocate for the LGBT community and serves as a spokesperson for a Human Rights Campaign.
Chaz seems to have a better understanding of who he is now, “I confused gender identity with sexual orientation. Your gender identity is about who you are, how you feel, the sex that you feel yourself to be. Sexual orientation is who you’re attracted to.”
7. Isis King
Isis King carved a name for herself in the fashion industry when she participated on the eleventh and seventeenth cycles of Tyra Banks’, America’s Next Top Model. King was born a male and struggled as a gay person in high school. It was only in 2009 when she had a gender reassignment therapy that several doors started opening up for her. Isis has made appearances on numerous talk shows and has been featured on several magazines since then. The model looks keen to prove her abilities, “Now, I’m just really wanting the world to see my first talent.”
8. Laverne Cox
Laverne Cox has warmed up to audiences worldwide with her performance as Sofia Burset on the hit Netflix show, “Orange is the New Black.”The actress has the distinct honor of being the first openly transgender to appear on the cover of Time magazine. She is also the first openly transgender person to be nominated for a prime time Emmy Award. During downtime, she serves as a transgender activist, “We are not what other people say we are. We are who we know ourselves to be, and we are what we love. That’s okay.”
9. Caitlyn Jenner
It is fair to state that Caitlyn Jenner broke the internet when she made the announcement of her transition to a woman back in April 2015. She revealed her sexual orientation, transition and hormone treatments in an interview with Sawyer on ABC’s 20/20. After the interview, she tweeted, “I’m so happy after such a long struggle to be living my true self. Welcome to the world Caitlyn. Can’t wait for you to get to know her/me.” Few in the LGBT world are as heavily recognized as Caitlyn. “I always felt that my greatest asset was not my physical ability, it was my mental ability.”
10. Lana Wachowski
Lana and her brother are known for their outstanding work on “V for Vendetta” and “The Matrix Trilogy.” She dons the hat of a screenwriter, producer and a professional director. The multi-talented Lana began her journey to womanhood back in 2009. Initially, Lana kept to herself, but she has now blossomed into an active member of the community. Her efforts were recognized in 2012 when she was bestowed upon with the HRC (Human Rights Campaign) Visibility Award back in 2012.
“What if, instead of responding out of our fear or anxiety, we learned to listen to the heart of those who make us uncomfortable?”
11. Jazz Jennings
Jazz Jennings initially came into prominence through her show on YouTube. Now, she has her own show, “I Am Jazz,” that focuses on her struggle with gender roles in high school. She was originally born a male and had gender identity disorder. Her supportive family has helped her transition. Jazz now spearheads the organization, Transkids Purple Rainbow Foundation. The organization prides itself on helping transgender children.
“Even today, there are kids who tease me, or call me by a boy name or ignore me altogether. This makes me feel crummy. Then, I remember that the kids who get to know me usually want to be my friend. They say I’m one of the nicest girls at school.”
12. Candis Cayne
Candis has a recurring role on the hit show, Dirty Sexy Money, where she portrays the character of a transgender named, Carmelita. She initially started her career as a drag performer and only made the transition in around 1996. The trans woman has even been on Caitlyn Jenner’s show, I am Cait.
“In the first couple of years when you’re transitioning, you don’t really fit into any gender, because you’re changing over. You have to start getting electrolysis before you even start your therapy. But, I think all the weird looks help to give you conviction in who you really are.”
13. Balian Buschbaum
Balian is a world renowned athlete and has won several Bronze medals in European pole vaulting championships spanning from 1998 to 2002. After retiring from his pole vaulting career in 2007, he underwent a successful gender reassignment surgery. Balian derived his first name from the blacksmith in the movie, Kingdom of Heaven. He was formerly known as Yvonne Buschbaum.
“Courage is the road to freedom. I woke up in complete freedom today. The sky is wide open.”
14. Carmen Carrera
After the season-ending of the popular show, Rupaul’s Drag Race, Carmen shocked people all over by coming out as a trans. Since the ending of the show, Carmen has been working round the clock as an activist for AIDS awareness. Many people have signed the petition asking Victoria’s Secret to make Carmen their first transgender angel.
“I left home as her son and walked back in as her daughter.”
15. Hari Nef
Hari Nef attained global recognition when she became one of the first top transgender models to be signed by the esteemed modelling agency, IMG Worldwide. The model studied theatre at Columbia University. She was most recently seen in an ad campaign for Agender, a genderless clothing store. The model wants people to understand that there are numerous ways to being trans, “Being a woman is an option, being trans is an option, and they’re options that appeal to me. We need to listen to people, not labels, not semantics.”
16. Kye Allums
Kye Allums is an advocate for transgender people all over the world. She has the honor of being the first openly transgender NCAA Division I college athlete. The activist tours all across America to help advocate for anti-bullying and support of Trans students in the States.
“If I were to give anyone advice who was a black, LGBT athlete, surround yourself with people who care about you, focus on your sport and never bring LGBT issues with you on the field. Who you are and the color of your skin, own it. Be proud of who you are.”
17. Jenna Talackova
In a bid to become the next Miss Universe, Jenna participated in Miss Universe Canada 2012 only to sadly disqualified. She was ousted on the grounds that Miss Universe needed to be “naturally born women.” Thus, a legal battle was pursued by Jenna against Donald Trump and the organizers. She was finally allowed to compete and made it into the Top 12. She was even bestowed upon with the title, Miss Congeniality.
“I am a woman. I was devastated, and I felt that excluding me for the reason that they gave was unjust. I have never asked for any special consideration. I only wanted to compete.”
18. Fallon Fox
Fallon Fox is the first openly transgender fighter to participate in a Mixed Martial Arts competition. Although she had reassignment surgeries done way back in 2006 in Thailand, she only came out publicly in 2013. The fighter faced a lot of backlash and flak as people were under the impression that her pre-transition gender would give her an unfair advantage over her contemporaries. The critics were shut down as medical reports proved that Fox had, in fact, more estrogen in her system than her competitors. Fallon cemented her name in the history books when she was inducted into the National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame.
“I have seen a lot. They call it “the game” and the game can change you. I mean it’s changed me! I have had a lot of reactionary moments. Reacting to what fighters have done to me. So I definitely feel it. I am a little older so I can maintain a little better. She has a lot to learn.”
19. Alicia Liu
Alicia Liu underwent a sex reassignment surgery when she was only 18. The TV personality and model was originally born Zi-Hua. In 2010, she was put into the spotlight in a major way when a former schoolmate posted a picture of her graduation online. A press conference was held and Alicia admitted to the speculations that she was, in fact, a transsexual.
“To go public with my sex change was more of a help for me than a hindrance, and it had not affected my life.”
20. Lili Elbe
Lile Elbe is recognized as the first person to undergo gender reassignment surgery. Unfortunately, her surgeries were not performed successfully and complications arose from the three operations. She eventually passed the great divide in an attempt to be her true self. Before crossing over, Lili did manage to change both her name and gender legally.
“Our assumption as a society that our sex category whether we have male or female genitals has implications to what we would love, what we would like to do and what type of person we will be that also people come in two types, male nature and female nature, this has no scientific basis and people are very different from each other so I try to move from the language of the two sexes are similar or different, to language which means we are all different.”