The activist trans celebrities paving the way for others

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If you are looking for inspiration to come out or to take a step toward romance with a trans person, celebrities of the community can be the catalyst you need to help out. 

To show you how wide-spread the community is across the world, we’ve broken them up across some of the largest English speaking countries in the world. Read on to learn more about their lives, accomplishments, and what they have done for activism to help the LGBTQ+ community. 

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The United States has perhaps the largest number of active transgender actors. You may be familiar with some of them for their iconic roles on TV and in movies. 

Watercolor of a trans celebrity

However, what really makes these actors stand out is the charity work and activism they do behind the scenes. Most relevant to the community is their work against bigotry, harassment, microaggressions, and more

Here are some of the leading trans performers in the United States.   

Elliot Page

Elliot Page’s most famous role may have been starring in the 2007 hit “Juno”. However, his work as an activist about queer rights has been ongoing ever since his breakthrough, not to mention his continued work in LGBT movies

Page initially came out as gay while attending a Las Vegas Human Rights Campaign’s “Time to Thrive” conference. The conference was focused on benefiting LGBTQ+ youth, and the speech is famous one for inspiring youths to have the courage to come out. 

Watercolor of a generic trans celebrity or model

He has also confronted Ted Cruz over civil rights issues concerning firing LGBT people over their sexual orientation and gender identity. Since then, Page came out as trans* on the 1st of Dec. 2020.

Elliot Page is one of the very few trans-masculine people in Hollywood. He came out in such a public way that it did wonders for a community that battles recognition and respect. The decision to not medically transition has also confronted how people view and judge trans bodies. 

Chaz Bono

Chaz Bono is the son of Cherilyn Sarkisian, or more popularly known as Cher. Initially Chaz came out as a lesbian in 1995, but transitioned to a man between 2008 and 2010. 

He is best known for his books about his experiences as he came out and the documentary “Becoming Chaz”. Although his film career is sparser, he is still influential as a social activist. Bono is the spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign and is vocal in the community. 

Most notably, Chaz promoted National Coming Out Day campaigned for the reelection of Bill Clinton for US President, campaigned against the Defense of Marriage Act, and served as Entertainment Media Director for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD).

He remains politically and socially active in the community, and works tirelessly for queer rights. 

Hari Nef

Hari Nef is an American actress, model, and writer. As an actress, she is most known for her role as Gittel in the Amazon original series Transparent. She made her runway debut at New York Fashion Week in 2015 and became the first openly transgender woman with IMG Models. 

Watercolor of a generic trans celebrity or model

Nef also became the first openly trans model to appear on the cover of a major UK magazine. As an activist and writer living in New York City, Nef has focused much of her work on fine art and film, sex, gender, and her identity. 

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Isis King

Isis King became famous as the first transgender model and contestant on America’s Next Top Model. Neil Giuliano of GLAAD called her inclusion an “unprecedented opportunity” to bring national and prime time attention to issues people face when they transition. 

New York magazine stated that King was the “cause célèbre” of Cycle 11, and has been noted for redefining beauty and how it is understood in an influential way. Due to the intimate nature of the show, audiences and contestants were able to fully embrace King’s own experiences.

She later competed again for Cycle 17, this time with an agenda to break the stigma against trans individuals. King has become a role model for men and women going through their own journeys. 

Watercolor of a generic trans celebrity or model

Lilly & Lana Wachowski

Although neither sister is known for acting, the sisters Lilly and Lana Wachowski are celebrities for their incredible film “The Matrix”. 

In 2012 Lana received the Human Rights campaign visibility award, and both have been open and vocal about their experiences. Their public presence and courage has inspired many to come out themselves. 

Caitlyn Jenner

Perhaps one of the most controversial trans women in US Hollywood, Caitlyn Jenner came out in a very public way about her identity. Many had to confront their image of the former Olympic gold medalist as a pole vaulter.

Even within the community Jenner has been seen as controversial, and has been called “The world’s most famous transgender woman”, having come out in 2015. 

Jenner had a lot of access to wealth and fame, but was nevertheless insulated from the broader community. After a failed tv show launch about her life as Caitlyn, Jenner moved to a low-key lifestyle largely outside of the spotlight to be a transgender rights advocate. 

Top searched trans celebrities in the UK

Trans actors that are popular in the United Kingdom have undergone many of the same struggles as famous queer people around the world. Trans people are finally starting to make the impact they deserve in the UK though, and here are some of the leading figures. 

Watercolor of a generic trans celebrity or model

Laverne Cox

Laverne Cox is an Emmy-nominated actress, popular not only in the UK but on top of the popularity list for all countries we’ve researched.

She’s a queer rights activist who is famous for her role as transgender inmate Sophia Burset in Netflix’s Orange is the new black. Her character Sophia Burset portrayed many of the injustices trans women face. Other than similar characters in the past, OITNB showed her finding a happy ending eventually.

Cox was the first openly trans person on the cover of “Cosmopolitan” and “Time Magazine”. She introduced the community’s perspectives to millions of readers new to these struggles. 

She is also the executive producer of Netflix documentary “Disclosure” which delves into the history of trans representation and views in the media. She has generally opened many doors for transgender people in media, giving visibility where it might not have been without her. 

Watercolor of a generic trans celebrity or model

Jamie Clayton

Much like Laverne Cox, Jamie Clayton is a transgendered person who is portraying a lesbian transgender in Sense8, a show made by the Wachowski sisters. She is very outspoken about the misrepresentation in media, and is an advocate for inclusive casting. 

Her public discussions on the importance of casting and portraying people who are non-binary and/or queer are sometimes considered controversial. However, they pave the way for discussing a growing community of people looking for representation and rights. 

Caroline Cossey

Caroline Cossey worked as a model under the name of “Tula”, and appeared in magazines like Australian Vogue. She also worked extensively as a glamour model and was a Page Three Girl for the British tabloid The Sun. She even appeared in Playboy in 1991.

In 1978, a tabloid journalist contacted her to tell her he had discovered she was transgender, and was planning to write about it. The incident and involvement of her family caused her to focus on smaller assignments.

Following her move to films, a tabloid headline that read “James Bond Girl was a Boy” mistreated her after she appeared in the 1981 For Your Eyes Only.  Tula responded by releasing I Am a Woman, her first autobiography.

Tula’s most influential activist moment came when she petitioned for changes in the British law concerning transsexuals. For seven years she fought in courts for her right to be recognized, and eventually went before the European Court of Human Rights.

On 21 May 1989, weeks after the European Court of Human Rights decided legally to recognise Tula as a woman, she was married. Unfortunately, on 27 September 1990, the European Court overturned its decision based on an appeal from the British government. 

People would not have the legal right to change their legal sex until the Gender Recognition Act of 2004. Tula’s involvement in the earlier steps were one of many that paved the way for influential change in how the UK sees queer people. 

Although Australia has fewer actors than powerhouses like Hollywood or even places such as the United Kingdom, they have nevertheless produced some of the most memorable actors and actresses in the world. Not least among them are trans figures pushing for LGBT rights. 

Watercolor of a generic trans celebrity or model

Carol Spencer

Carol Spencer, more famously known as Carlotta, was famous for being one of Australia’s first authentic actresses to portray someone who is transgender on screen. She played Robyn Ross in the scandalous 1973 “Number 96” show. 

Although it took decades for trans actors and actresses to gain traction in the Australian film scene, Carlotta paved the way for them with a much beloved character. Without figures like her, who knows where we would be today when it comes to representation? 

Andreja Pejić

Andrea Pejić was originally born in Tuzla, Yugoslavia. Fleeing the Bosnian War, Pejić and her brother Igor fled to Serbia. After moving from refugee camps and the 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, her mother moved the family to Melbourne, Victoria, Australia in 2000. 

Having survived war and asylum and an emigration across the world, Pejić became the first openly transgender model profiled by Vogue in May 2015. She was also the first-ever trans* model to sign a cosmetics contract. 

Watercolor of a generic trans celebrity or model

She also made history by becoming the first transgender individual to appear on the cover of GQ. Pejić came into the film scene with her 2018 debut in the crime thriller film The Girl in the Spider’s Web.

Pejić serves as an example and inspiration to people across the world for having overcome hardship and adversity while being true to herself. 

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Why celebrities are so important to activism

Celebs are often seen as role models and people who inspire others to act or put themselves out there. Their followers can open up and use them as inspiration to change and do something good. This is why celebrities are so important to the LGBT community.

These people confront phobia and bigotry in a very public way. They also push for the rights of LGBTQ individuals struggling to gain a voice to express their experiences. To people discovering their gender identity or coming out, this can be vital for their happiness.

Watercolor of a generic trans celebrity or model

On that note, you don’t need to be a famous actor or actress, or even a model on something like Vanity Fair, to have an impact through activism or action. Representation takes courage, honesty, and people willing to be vocal no matter their roots. 

Where to date someone trans

When it comes to finding someone special who is on their own journey regarding gender identity, there are many dating sites that offer great services to facilitate meetings. As more public figures become outspoken about their own identity, so too do these sites grow. 

Take for example OkCupid, which has 22 gender options and 20 sexual orientations options. It is one of the most queer-friendly apps on the dating market to date. However, if online dating isn’t your thing, there are many ways on how you can date a trans person.  

Consider attending conferences, public rallies and protests, and even meetup events that are focused on the community. Becoming more involved in the daily lives and work of transgenders will open up many doors toward being with someone honest with who they are

Take the inspiration that these actors and actresses have given the world and use it as a springboard into being open, honest, and comfortable with who you are and who you want to be with.