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Inspirational transgender celebrities we love

Robyn Exton

Nov 08, 2022

Inspirational transgender celebrities we love
  • From Hollywood to tech, music, fashion and TV, there are more openly transgender celebrities making their mark now than ever before, and we’re so here for it. 

    There have been transgender people achieving amazing things since, well, forever, but it’s only relatively recently that many felt comfortable enough to be openly trans. Celebrities choosing to be open about their gender identity has a huge impact on representation and visibility for the trans community, and seeing trans folks thrive in the mainstream is a huge step forward for trans rights and equality. 

    Honestly, seeing anyone embracing who they are makes us really happy – so in that spirit, here are just a few trans celebrities you need to know about.

    How many transgender people are there in the world?

    Recent studies have found that nearly 1.64 million people in the US alone (over the age of 13) identify as transgender.

    The best estimate for the trans population in the UK is 600,000 trans and non-binary people out of 60 million, so around 1% of the population – but the truth is it’s hard to estimate an accurate figure. 

    One of the reasons we don’t have more data on how many trans people are in the world is the stigma and lack of awareness for the trans community. Even the term ‘transgender’ is relatively new – in fact…

    Why trans representation matters?

    For those wondering what it means to be transgender, and even whether they might be transgender themselves, seeing openly trans role models can provide representation, raise awareness and help end discrimination in the trans community. 

    That’s exactly why openly trans celebrities are so important and empowering. Seeing celebs like you’re about to see provides representation for a historically underrepresented community and breaks down old taboos, showing trans people as happy, popular and excelling in their fields.

    It can also help others understand more about their own gender identities, whether that be figuring out their pronouns or accepting their transness. 

    Elliot Page (He/They)

     Instagram post of Elliot Page in a tuxedo for the 2022 Oscars alongside Instagram comments

    Source: Elliot Page on Instagram 

    There was no chance of Elliot Page being left off the list as one of the biggest trans names in recent years. Known for his starring roles in Juno, Inception, and more recently in Netflix’s Umbrella Academy, Canadian actor Elliot Page announced in December 2020 that he is transgender in a moving Instagram post.

    In the post, Page said, 

    “I feel lucky to be writing this. To be here. To have arrived at this place in my life. I feel overwhelming gratitude for the incredible people who have supported me along this journey. I can’t begin to express how remarkable it feels to finally love who I am enough to pursue my authentic self.”

    Following the announcement, Page’s Umbrella Academy character Viktor, previously known as Vanya, also came out as trans. The gender transition storyline has been widely praised for its relaxed approach and is a great example of positive transgender representation on screen (honestly, it’s impossible not to smile watching it, Viktor has the best siblings.)

    Laverne Cox (She/Her)

    Instagram post of Laverne Cox smiling in a black outfit

    Source: Laverne Cox on Instagram

    Another well-known transgender celebrity from our TV screens is Laverne Cox, perhaps best known for her role in Orange Is the New Black as Sophia Burset. 

    It’s been a career of firsts for Cox – not only was she the first openly transgender person to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award in 2014, and then the first to win a Daytime Emmy in 2015, but she was also the first openly transgender person to appear on the cover of Time magazine, and has also appeared on the Time 100 list. 

    As well as her roles in film and television, Cox uses her platform to passionately advocate for gender equality and LGBTQ+ rights. In her Time magazine cover article, Cox said we are at a “transgender tipping point”, and that trans visibility plays a key role:

    “We are in a place now where more and more trans people want to come forward and say, ‘This is who I am.’ And more trans people are willing to tell their stories. More of us are living visibly and pursuing our dreams visibly, so people can say, ‘Oh yeah, I know someone who is trans.’ When people have points of reference that are humanising, that demystifies difference.”

    Angelica Ross (She/Her)

     Instagram post of Angelica Ross in a green dress stood against a wall

    Source: Angelica Ross on Instagram

    You probably recognise Angelica Ross from FX’s Pose and American Horror Story – if you need a reminder, here she is serving looks on her Instagram. As well as these starring roles, Ross is also the founder and CEO of TransTech Social Enterprises, an award-winning firm that helps Black, queer and transgender people train in the tech industry, providing them with skills that promote economic empowerment. Her determination to create space for marginalised people began long before her big break into Hollywood, with Ross telling Refinery29,

    “Whether that was fighting for representation for Black and brown and trans folks in queer spaces, training under the National LGBTQ Task Force, or starting my non-profit TransTech Social Enterprises to train trans people to enter the tech industry, my mission has been to see us not only live but thrive, everywhere we set foot.”

    It’s worth noting that Pose, a trailblazing series about 1980s New York City’s queer and trans-led ballroom culture, features many other iconic trans celebrities. 

    These celebs include Michaela Jaé Rodriguez (She/Her), who was the first transgender actor to win the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series in 2021, followed by the first to win a Golden Globe in 2022 for best actress. 

    Let’s not forget Indya Moore (She/They), who was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world back in 2019 – not to mention the writer of Pose, Janet Mock (She/Her)! The whole show is full of some seriously talented trans and queer folk – they could have an article to themselves. In fact, I’m writing that down for later. 

    Hunter Schafer (She/They)

    Source: Hunter Schafer on Instagram

    Have you watched HBO’s Euphoria? It’s kind of a big deal – not least because trans model, actress and activist Hunter Schafer plays one of the leading roles.

    Schafer plays the character of Jules, a trans teenager who began to transition at just 13 years old. Critics have praised Jules’ storyline for the authenticity Schafer and the writers bring to the role, showing Jules as a trans teen dealing with normal teen things, rather than the fact they’re trans being their whole storyline. On Jules’ story, Schafer told Variety,

    “There need to be more roles where trans people aren’t just dealing with being trans; they’re being trans while dealing with other issues. We’re so much more complex than just one identity.”

    As for Schafer’s own story, as well as being a highly regarded model and actress, she is a fierce advocate of trans representation and rights. Schafer was particularly critical of the repeal of the HB2 act in North Carolina, saying that the repeal of the bill was both dangerous and discriminatory. 

    Chella Man (He/Him)

    Source: Chella Man on Instagram

    Chella Man is an Asian American actor, model, artist, YouTuber, and LGBTQ+ activist. He’s made a career out of proudly sharing his personal gender journey, saying in an article for CNN Style

    “Often in mainstream media, the representation of identity is compartmentalised, erasing the reality of intersectionality and individuals who live on a continuum between binaries. As an artist who is Chinese American, Jewish, Deaf, and genderqueer, I’ve had to be my own representation.”

    In 2021, Man was announced as the first trans man to be the face of YSL Beauty, saying proudly in an Instagram post on his new role that his transition scars and trans journey are part of what make him beautiful: 

     “My scars are radiant, they show where I’ve been…top surgery allowed me to make my body a home, and my scars will always remind me of this liberation. My scars are the things that make me who I am. They’re a privilege to bear. My scars are my signature.”

    Ezra Furman (She/They)

    Instagram post of Ezra Furman in a purple outfit and make-up

    Source: Ezra Furman Instagram

    Formerly the lead singer and guitarist of Ezra Furman and the Harpoons, Ezra Furman has since moved on to a successful solo music career that has included All of Us Flames (2022) and working on the soundtrack for Netflix’s drama series Sex Education.  

    Furman came out as a transgender woman in 2021, previously identifying as genderqueer. She continues to identify as bisexual, and since coming out as transgender has spoken openly about being a trans mother to her child, saying,

    “When our baby was born I had approximately zero examples that I had seen of trans women raising children. So here’s one for anyone who wants to see one: I’m a trans woman and a mom. This is possible. I never dreamed it was possible to be happy and self-realized and trans and un-closeted, and also become a parent. But it is and I am doing it. Because trans people deserve to pursue the lives we want, on our terms.”

    Big thank you to Furman for bringing representation to trans parents – more of this please! 

    Yasmin Finney (She/Her)

    Yasmin Finney in school uniform as Elle Argent in Netflix’s Heartstopper

    Source: Yasmin Finney on Instagram

    If you’ve not seen Heartstopper on Netflix yet, it’s an adorable, feel-good queer love story and an absolutely essential watch, not least because of the wonderful cast of talented queer folk behind it. One key member of the cast is Yasmin Finney, a trans actress who plays trans teen Elle Argent.

    On her role, Finney told The Guardian she wished she’d seen someone like Elle on TV when she was younger,

    “I would[‘ve thought] there’s hope – a black trans person on the screen, so young, so authentic and so natural. […] the amount of time I’ve spent searching for representation, clawing for it, and trying to find somebody I could look up to as an idol, somebody that is a reflection of me.”

    Not only did Finney blow us all away in the teen romance, but its also been announced she’ll be joining the cast of Doctor Who as Rose for Russell T Davies’ re-boot of the iconic sci-fi show, starring the first ever black Doctor, Sex Education’s Ncuti Gatwa. On the Doctor Who role, Finney said “envision Heartstopper, but fighting aliens” – definitely a good start. Finney will be the first trans actress to join the Whoniverse, a huge win for sci-fi fans everywhere. 

    This list of inspiring and famous transgender people could go on and on, which just goes to show how many celebrities are starting to be open about their experiences. We’ve even got a list of transgender UK celebrities, including famed Scottish musician Sophie Xeon, aka SOPHIE.

    So whether you’re curious and looking for more information on all things LGBTQ+ or are exploring the world of safe trans dating, find more eye-opening articles below. 

    Robyn Exton

    Robyn is the CEO & Founder of HER. Find her on Twitter.

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