Transgendered people were once something of a taboo topic in media and popular culture. They existed in smoky clubs performing in drag, or hid in broad daylight and waited for the judgement of strangers who didn’t understand them.
Thankfully, times have changed.
Now, trans-people are coming out of the closet, and some are stepping straight into the spotlight. Let’s have a look at some of the famous faces of transgendered people today…
Not surprisingly, with her recent public transition, Caitlyn Jenner is the name on everyone’s lips, regardless of their gender status. Jenner transitioned from male to female, and was already a household name in her old life after winning a gold medal in the 1976 Summer Olympics, as well as through her involvement with in the Kardashian family.
Jenner leapt into the spotlight with a stunning cover story on Vanity Fair, and has since been on the receiving end of a whole lot of internet love. But, Caitlyn Jenner appears to be taking it all in her stride, happy with the notion that she has become the person she always knew she was, and is no longer living a constant lie.
Skylar Kergil has been a well-known name on YouTube since 2009, when he began to document his transition from female to male through hormone therapy. Since then, his channel has made him a celebrity both on and offline, and he continues to be a speaker for trans rights and acceptance.
Skylar began his transition as young as three, when he decided he would only answer to the name Mike, and regularly cut his hair and styled himself as a boy. He describes himself as having an androgynous childhood, and in 2006 during his sophomore year of high school he met his first transgendered person and things finally started making sense. Skylar has been on testosterone for more than five years now, and tells his story in depth here.
How can you not love Laverne Cox? She is the sassy, outspoken actor and trans-folk activist who has hit the bigtime recently with her role on Netflix’s Orange Is The New Black. She was the first openly transgender person to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award, and appeared on the cover of Time magazine in June of 2014, also a world first.
Laverne is known for her unapologetic style, and her dedication to the subject of supporting trans-folk from all backgrounds. She is heavily involved in the media in a number of forms, and doesn’t look to be going anywhere anytime soon.
In many ways, Jazz Jennings brought the issue of transgendered children home for parents all over the world. Born in the body of a boy, Jazz began her transition from a very young age, and was clear about her gender from the moment she could speak. Although it was a challenge, her parents fully accepted her identity, and did everything they could to ease her transition into her new life.
Jazz has been in and out of the spotlight over the years, appearing in several documentaries and interviews about transgendered children. She continues to advocate for the rights of transgendered kids, and education surrounding the issue. Last year, Jazz was named by Time magazine as one of the ‘The 25 Most Influential Teens of 2014’.
A few years ago, Thomas Beatie was one of the big names around trans-folk. Why? Well, although Thomas transitioned from female to male, he decided not to have surgery on his female reproductive organs. This meant that in 2008, when he found out that his wife was infertile, he was artificially inseminated, and went on to bear their three children.
What Beatie did, along with many other firsts, was challenge the concept of concrete gender definitions and roles. His story was widely applauded and criticised, but it hasn’t stopped him from being yet another advocate and speaker for trans-people. He continues to raise awareness and educate.
So, you’ve seen the people, you’ve heard their stories, and you’ll probably keep on hearing them. Transgendered people are a welcome, and necessary, part of our fluid and changing concept of gender, and we’re happy to have them.
Of course, not all transgendered people will have (nor have they had) the same ease of transition as the people we’ve highlighted. The path for transgendered people of all ages, and particularly transgendered youth, is a hard one. Along it, there are many people who welcome and accept them, and other who hurt them with a lack of understanding and education about the issues surrounding trans-people.
But, transgendered people in the spotlight, along with an army of trans-advocates the world over, are beginning to shift that. They’re showing themselves for the wonderful people they are, gender be damned, and we hope they keep on with it.