20 Transgender Stars You Need to Know
2015 has been a huge year of inclusion and expansion of people’s perspectives on what is considered “the norm.” In only four months we’ve seen plus-size model Tess Holliday taking the fashion world by storm, Lane Bryant + ModCloth tackling body positivity and Dove being, well Dove, with another feel-good, feel-real campaign. Just last week Bruce Jenner disclosed to Diane Sawyer and the world that “For all intents and purposes, I am a woman.” With Bruce’s gender identity discussion, the transgender community entered the forefront of people’s minds and our discussions. After the interview, it was revealed that the Olympic gold winner’s transition will be documented in a series that will air on E! While we’re looking forward to hearing more about Bruce’s journey, we thought it was important to shine a spotlight on some more faces in the trans community that you need to know. Without further ado, here are 20 more transgender people who are taking the world by storm.
1. Laverne Cox: The Emmy-nominated actress for Orange Is the New Black — who is the first openly transgender person to be nominated for an Emmy in an acting category — is without a doubt a force to be reckoned with. In addition to starring on the Netflix series, the actress produced the powerful 2014 documentary The T Word, was the first openly transgender person on the cover of TIME magazine last year, appeared on People magazine’s “2015 World’s Most Beautiful Women” list and is publishing a memoir later this year. From must-see to must-read, Laverne has our attention no matter the medium. (Photo via Michael Loccisano/Getty)
2. Janet Mock: New York Times bestselling author of Redefining Realness, Janet is a multi-talented lady. After starting her career at People magazine, she has since moved on to other avenues in her professional career as a public speaker and advocate for trans women’s rights, a Contributing Editor for Marie Claire (the publication she told her story to in 2011) and hosts the weekly culture show So POPular on MSNBC’s Shift network. And that’s just a shortlist of her current day-to-day. (Photo via Robin Marchant/Getty)
3. Jazz Jennings: Youngest on this list at 14, this trans girl is already creating a name for herself. Not only is she a popular YouTuber, she’s also a spokesmodel for Clean + Clear, a notable LGBTQIA activist, an author and soon-to-be TV staple courtesy of TLC’s summer docuseries All That Jazz. Watch out world, this girl has a bright future. And, take heed, teens, this one is a role model worth looking up to. (Photo via Andrew H. Walker/Getty)
4. Andreja Pejic: The Australian model recently became the first openly transgender person profiled by Vogue. Since being discovered by a modeling scout as a teenager while working at McDonald’s, she has appeared on runways and campaigns for designers Jean-Paul Gaultier, Marc Jacobs, Jeremy Scott and Thom Browne. We’ll be keeping an eye out for her come Fashion Week in September. (Photo via Craig Barritt/Getty)
5. Gigi Gorgeous: You may recognize this social media personality from her beauty-based YouTube account that has amassed more than 1 million subscribers. But she’s also busy making a name for herself in the acting, modeling and activist arenas. Gigi is definitely one gorgeous gal to keep an eye on when it comes to makeup advice (watch out, Michelle Phan ;) (Photo via Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty)
6. Carmen Carrera: Carmen probably looks familiar from her stint as a contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race. Since her season she has remained in the public eye. She currently stays busy as an active model — posing for famed photog David LaChapelle and being featured in the pages of W + Glamour UK. (Photo via Donald Bowers/Getty)
7. Chaz Bono: Cher’s son is well-known as an advocate, writer and musician. Recently he has appeared on everything from Dancing With the Stars, Celebrity Fit Club, his own documentary Becoming Chaz and has written two books. (Photo via Gabriel Olsen/Getty)
8. Lana Wachowski: One half of The Wachowski director, screenwriter, producer duo, she is probably most well-known for The Matrix series. In addition to the sci-fi fourquel, she remains largely private but has continued to lend her creativity and expertise to films like V for Vendetta, Cloud Atlas and Jupiter Ascending. (Photo via Kevin Winter/Getty)
9. Geena Rocero: The Manila-born model and advocate first grabbed our attention when she came out as transgender during a moving TED talk on International Transgender Day of Visibility in 2014. Since then she has remained an active model, appearing in magazines worldwide, while also furthering her advocacy efforts for trans people throughout the world with her organization Gender Proud. (Photo via Slaven Vlasic/Getty)
10. Kye Allums: This former college basketball player was the first Division I openly transgender athlete in NCAA history, playing for George Washington University. Since graduating in 2011, he published a book, is a professional artist and an active public speaker and advocate for trans athletes. (Photo via Brad Barket/Getty)
11. Alexandra Billings: Currently starring in Amazon’s Transparent, this actress — who was the first openly trans woman to play a transgender character on TV in ABC Family’s TV movie Romy + Michele: In the Beginning — has plenty of other accolades to her name before the Amazon hit. She has appeared on the stage in off-Broadway + touring productions of shows (including her one-woman autobiographical show), won numerous beauty pageants and has taught courses at several universities throughout the country. (Photo via Charley Gallay/Getty)
12. Ian Harvie: Also part of the Transparent cast, this stand-up comic, actor and writer is pretty busy. Well-known as comedian Margaret Cho’s opening act, he recently released the concert film Ian Harvie Superhero and is currently touring the nation with his live stand-up comedy. (Photo via Jason Merritt/Getty)
13. Jamie Clayton: This American actress and model is poised to make a big splash this year. In June you can find her in Netflix’s new series Sense8 and judging by the synopsis not only will the series be a big hit, but she likely will be too. (Photo via Frazer Harrison/Getty)
14. Tiq Milan: The current national spokesperson for GLAAD is also a writer and public speaker you need to know. Writing for publications like Ebony, BET and The New York Times, this journalist + activist is eloquently fighting for trans rights while proving that the pen is mightier than the sword. (Photo via Gabriel Olsen/Getty)
15. Isis King: Known as being the first trans woman to compete on America’s Next Top Model, she is also a fashion designer. Since appearing on the reality TV show competition, she has worked with American Apparel, walked the runway for countless fashion houses and posed for a variety of print campaigns. (Photo via Gary Gershoff/Getty)
16. Lea T: The Brazilian-born and Italian-raised fashion model is quite ubiquitous in the modeling world. She is Riccardo Tisci’s — creative director of Givenchy — muse, the face of Redken, has competed in Italy’s version of Dancing With the Stars, is a transgender advocate and fashion editorial staple. (Photo via Fernanda Calfat/Getty)
17. Candis Cayne: This actress has a lengthy resume, which includes her recurring role on ABC’s Dirty Sexy Money that made her the first transgender actress to play a recurring transgender character in primetime. In addition to her television work and regular advocacy for the transgender community, she has appeared in numerous films and music videos. (Photo via D Dipasupil/Getty)
18. Our Lady J: This gal is a musician, a TV writer (currently on Amazon’s Transparent) and a singer-songwriter. You may not know it, but you’ve probably heard some of her work as she’s collaborated with famous ladies Sia, Lady Gaga and Cyndi Lauper. Lady J is one to keep your *ears* on as well. (Photo via Gabriel Olsen/Getty)
19. B. Scott: Notable television personality, radio show host and Internet celeb, B. Scott also runs the entertainment site Love B. Scott. In addition to all of those outlets, he keeps busy in that mogul life by interviewing celebs, launching apparel + beauty products and contributes to Glam and Ebony. (Photo via Charley Gallay/Getty)
20. Aydian Dowling: Buzzy activist, YouTuber and model Aydian Dowling could soon make history as the first transgender man on the cover of Men’s Health magazine. While that is already an impressive list, he is also the founder of transgender pride clothing company Point 5cc and is a vocal activist for female-to-male transgender people. (Photo via Jon Premosch/BuzzFeed News)
Are there any transgender stars-on-the-rise who we have missed? Share them with us in the comments below.
Editor’s Note: Per each individual’s pronoun preference, we have used the ones they individually identify with. For more information about pronoun usage, refer to GLAAD’s Tip Sheet.