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Caitlyn Jenner


Caitlyn Jenner was famous for years before her transition, which has, naturally, made her transition an incredibly public one. She was born Bruce Jenner, who grew up to be a gold medal-winning Olympic athlete, and of course part of the Kardashian clan as husband to Kris Jenner and father to Kendall, Kylie, Brody, and some other Jenners as well. Caitlyn raised the Kardashian children after their father Robert passed away. Caitlyn shocked many when she started opening up about her transition, including some of her family members. She has been incredibly open about the process since even appearing on her own TV show I Am Cait to document more of her life following the transition. Caitlyn was awarded the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPY's after her Vanity Fair Cover introduction to the world, and she has been called the most famous openly transgender woman in the world. She has broken all kinds of records, including being the first openly transgender woman to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

Lea T


Lea T, which is short for Leandra Medeiros Cerezo, was born Leandro Medeiros Cerezo, the son of a well-known soccer player in Brazil named Toninho Cerezo. She grew up in Italy and her modeling career was launched when she was discovered by Riccardo Tisci who is the Creative Director of Givenchy. The "T" in Lea's professional name actually stands for Tisci. Lea went on to become Riccardo's muse and the high fashion jobs starting rolling in. In 2014 Lea became the face of Redken hair products, which made her the first openly transgender model to be the face of a cosmetics brand. In 2015 Forbes said that she was one of the 12 women who changed Italian fashion. The model underwent her surgery to transition in 2012 which took place in Thailand. Initially, she expressed some dissatisfaction with the results but later said that she was satisfied. Lea has been featured in major editorials like Vogue Paris, Hercules Magazine, Interview Magazine, Cover Magazine and Love Magazine.

Jenna Talackova


Jenna Talackova was the first transgender woman to compete in an international beauty pageant. She was representing her home country of Canada when she joined in Thailand's International Queen beauty competition. Then in 2012 she went on to represent Canada once again in the Miss Universe pageant, which was particularly noteworthy because she was initially disqualified from the competition because of the fact that she is transgender. That turned into a legal battle that she ultimately won. Gloria Allred took on the case which required going up against the pageant organizers, which included the now president Donald Trump. They reversed their decision to say that"[a]s long as she meets the standards of legal gender recognition requirements of Canada, which we understand that she does, Jenna Talackova is free to compete in the 2012 Miss Universe Canada pageant." Jenna has expressed that she began experienced gender dysmorphia from a very young age, and started transitioning at the age of 14. She completed her reassignment surgery at the age of 19.

Laverne Cox


Laverne Cox is best known for playing Sophia Burset on the hit Netflix show Orange is the New Black. But she is also known for breaking all kinds of barriers when it comes to being a transgender actress. Laverne was the first transgender actress to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award... ever. She was also the first openly transgender person to be featured on the cover of TIME magazine when she got the opportunity in 2014. Laverna was actually born a twin, which is convenient since her brother M Lamar plays the role of Marcus on Orange is the New Black, who was Sophia's character before she transitioned. The show uses a lot of flashbacks to tell the prisoner's stories from before they ended up behind bars. Laverne has been a strong advocate for the rights of transgenders and the LGBTQ community: "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.”

Candis Cayne


Candis Cayne is the first transgender woman to land a recurring role on primetime TV playing a transgender woman, which is extremely noteworthy. She landed the role of Carmelita Rainer on ABC's Dirty Sexy Money, a character who ended up having an affair with Billy Baldwin's character on the show. Before her big break on that show, Candis was born as a fraternal twin named Brendan McDaniel. In the 1990's she lived in New York and worked as a choreographer and a drag performer, and began her transition in 1996. She then went on to have a recurring role as the transgender character named Alexis Stone in the sixth season of Nip/Tuck, was a judge on RuPaul's Drag U, and appeared on Caitlyn Jenner's reality show I Am Cait. Candis has said that "I'm not trying to be a spokeswoman for the transgender community; I just want to be looked at as a living, breathing, happy human being."

Fallon Fox


Fallon Fox is the first openly transgender MMA athlete in mixed martial arts history. There has been a bit of controversy in her career since some people question whether it is fair that Fallon competes against other women or not and wonder whether she has an unfair advantage. Fallon argues that without testicles or ovaries she might have less testosterone than the women she is competing against, meaning that she might have less strength and endurance than the average MMA athlete. The International Olympic Committee allows transgender athletes to compete in their games once they've had the required hormone therapy and surgery, despite the fact that many people think it should be based on chromosomes. The problem with basing it on chromosomes, however, is that when they went back to 1988 and tested a variety of female athletes, some of them had Y chromosomes, so they determined that the only way to do gender verification testing is by looking at genital and hormonal status.

Alexis Arquette


Alexis Arquette was one of the children of the famed Arquette family. Unfortunately, she passed away in 2016 at the age of 47 from health complications. These complications lead to a cardiac arrest which stemmed from the HIV that she had contacted 29 years earlier. The actress, cabaret performer, underground cartoonist, and activist was assigned male at birth but had her first indigenous acting role in 1986. From there she started doing some female impersonation work, and later identified fully as female and shared that she was undergoing gender reassignment surgery. Alexis documented her experiences of transitioning in the documentary Alexis Arquette: She's My Brother, which debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2007. She was a huge advocate and vocal supporter of transgender people, including another famous peer Chaz Bono who was born as Chastity and started transitioning in 2006. So sad, but so inspirational! This one came as a shock to us!

Lana Wachowski


Lana Wachowski used to be one-half of the Wachowski Brothers, who directed films like the Matrix trilogy, Cloud Atlas, and Jupiter Ascending. The talented duo changed their name to "The Wachowskis" in 2012 when Larry transitioned to Lana and became a woman. In addition to being a director, Lana is also a screenwriter, producer, and comic book publisher. But then more recently, Lana's brother Andy also transitioned and became Lilly. Lilly has spoken out about being so grateful for Lana's experience as guidance, as well as the access to good doctors. The two are fairly private in general but have been open about the process. Lilly has said that “My reality is that I’ve been transitioning and will continue to transition all of my life, through the infinite that exists between male and female as it does in the infinite between the binary of zero and one. We need to elevate the dialogue beyond the simplicity of binary. Binary is a false idol.”

Jazz Jennings


Jazz Jennings shared her transgender story at a very young age when she agreed to do a 20/20 interview with Barbara Walters called "I'm a Girl' -- Understanding Transgender Children." Jazz was only seven years old at the time, and her parents explained that she had identified as a girl ever since she could talk. The interview was a really important thing to share since it helped a lot of people understand how natural all of it felt to Jazz and her support system. These days the teenager hosts her own YouTube series called "I Am Jazz," and also stars in a TLC reality series by the same title. Jazz is an LGBTQ rights activist, and she's one of the youngest transgender females to ever speak out about her experience. Christine Connelly, who is a member of the board of directors of the Boston Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth says that Jazz " was the first young person who picked up the national spotlight, went on TV and was able to articulate her perspective and point of view with such innocence."

Isis King


Isis King was the first transgender model to appear on Tyra Banks modeling reality TV show competition America's Next Top Model. After her run on the show in 2008, she returned again for an All-Star season a few years later. With her time on that show, she has been credited as being one of the first transgender people to bring widespread attention to the community on primetime TV. Isis also became the first transgender model to work with American Apparel. Isis has explained that while people call her a transgender she was born mentally as a female and prefers the phrase "born in the wrong body." The model first came out as gay but then realized that she wanted to transition, and her family did not approve of that so she ended up living in a homeless shelter for LGBTQ youth. GLAAd applauded Isis' time on America's Next Top Model as "the show deals head on with the contestants confronting their own phobias. There's going to be support and the reverse of that. It opens the door for the other girls and the viewers to get to know King and the transgender community."

Amiyah Scott


Amiyah Scott was born Arthur and began her transition at the age of 17. The model almost became the first transgender woman to be a cast member of Bravo's famed reality TV show The Real Housewives of Atlanta, but that didn't work out. She had some appearances on the show but then seemed to imply that she walked away from the opportunity because she was being exploited. She has said, "I'm in my 20's and when this opportunity was BROUGHT to me. It was no guarantee & I was cool with that, but I wasn't going to exploit myself or act out of character for it... I honestly saw a chance to help change the perspective of MY community, but I wanted to maintain my dignity." The producers fired back and said that she was actually let go for not being interesting enough. But things kept moving for Amiyah, as she was then chosen by Lee Daniels to read for a show that was a spin-off of Empire, a prequel to the show about the life of the younger Cookie Lyon. That show does not seem to be happening, however.

Andreja Pejić


Andreja Pejić is an Australian model who was discovered working at a McDonald's at the age of 17. She launched a career working as an androgynous male model for both men and women's clothing. In 2011, she was awarded both the honor of one of  Top 50 Male Models and as well as ranking on a 100 Hottest Women in the World list. That same year she released a documentary about her life called Andrej(a): The Documentary, and in 2014 she started a Kickstarter account to help her pay for her gender reassignment surgery. She has said “I thought about being gay, but it didn’t fit….I thought, Well, maybe this.” Andreja is 6'1 and has expressed that she was worried about her size as she was going through puberty, but then realized that it was fine for a modeling career. She has said, “I wanted to stop puberty in its early tracks. I was worried about my feet being too big, my hands being too big, my jawline being too strong... Every girl in fashion is exactly the same. I don’t need to worry!”

Caroline “Tula” Cossey


Caroline “Tula” Cossey was the first transgender Bond girl, as well as the first transgender Playboy model. However, back then we didn't openly discuss this the way that we do now,  and she spent a lot of time trying to hide the truth about who she was. Caroline was born intersex and was raised as a male, but then started receiving hormone therapy at the age of 17 to start her transition to female. She got a boob job and started working as a showgirl in Paris, and then used the money that she made doing that to undergo the full transition. She spent a lot of time hiding aspects of herself and has written about it in her book My Story. She has said, “The biggest step wasn’t going out in public wearing female clothes and makeup, 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, and there was no way I was going to wear any of those horrible clip-ons. So I decided I was definitely going to have my ears pierced, and got them done just before my seventeenth birthday.”

Carmen Carrera


Carmen Carrera made a name for herself on the reality show RuPaul’s Drag Race. However, the model came out as transgender after she appeared on the show. She went through her medical transition while married to her husband, who she actually met when she was a man, and some of that was ultimately discussed on VH1’s reality show Couples Therapy. Carmen has said that the show gave her the opportunity to reach the hip hop community, and then she was cast an actress in the film Ricki and the Flash alongside Meryl Streep. Carmen has also started a petition on Change.org in an attempt to become Victoria's Secret first transgender model. Carmen has goals of growing her acting career as a woman. "I want to just be able to act and be like the girl next door or the cute babysitter or the busy mom who’s fun or who knows, maybe something super dramatic, somebody who’s really insecure and angry. I would just love to play a female, a woman, just a biological woman with issues, you know? That’s what I want to do."

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