It’s LGBTQ Pride Month! Unfortunately, the “T” for transgender seems to be left out of important discussions about LGBTQ rights and representation. Most people with the bare minimum of human decency are going to claim to support LGBTQ rights, but what are the chances of them actually knowing about transgender issues? Pretty slim.
We live in a world where transgender women–particularly transgender women of color–are at a disproportionately high risk of violence. We’re still praising cisgender (AKA, people whose gender identity matches their sex at birth) men for playing transgender women in acting roles–like Matthew McConaughey’s Oscar winning performance in Dallas Buyers Club or Andrew Garfield in the Arcade Fire music video for “We Exist”–instead of hiring transgender people to play transgender roles. People still casually say “tranny” as if it isn’t ridiculously offensive. I could go on, but you get the picture. Basically, most of us suck when it comes to acknowledging the struggles of the transgender community, and we need to get our acts together.
That’s why it’s so important that we take the time to acknowledge transgender individuals who are challenging the status quo and inspiring folks inside (and even outside) of the LGBTQ community. Since we’re all about girl power here at Gurl, we’re going to praise 10 awesome transgender girls and women, from actresses and models to activists and authors.
Laverne CoxIf you watch Orange Is The New Black then you're already familiar with the amazingly gorgeous Laverne Cox. Recently, she became the first openly transgender woman to grace the cover of Time Magazine. She is just working it, isn't she? Photo source: WENN.com
Eli ErlickEli is known for being the youngest person in North America to receive Gender Confirmation Surgery at 13-years-old. But that's not the end of her story at all. Here's why she's awesome and will make you feel like you've accomplished absolutely nothing in life: She's only 18-years-old but she is already the founder of her own organization. It's called Trans Student Equality Resources and it advocates for equal opportunity for trans students. She's helping the lives of young trans students like her and if that's not amazing then I don't know what is. Photo source: Autostraddle
Carmen CarreraIf you watch RuPaul's Drag Race then you've seen Carmen Carrera work it, but that was before she came out as a transgender woman. This model and actress is a fierce and firm advocate for transgender rights and always calls out BS when she sees it. She recently criticized Ru Paul himself for his use of the phrase "she-male" in an episode of Drag Race. There's nothing more awesome than women who aren't afraid to speak out. Photo source: WENN.com
Cassidy Lynn CampbellLast fall, Cassidy Lynn Campbell made history in a big way by becoming the first transgender girl to win homecoming queen in the state of California. After getting a ton of press coverage, Campbell realized that this wasn't just a victory for herself, but also a victory for every other transgender student struggling to have their identity recognized. Photo source: Autostraddle
Cece McDonaldCece McDonald's story really brings to light how messed up our justice system can be. In June 2012, Cece was sentenced to 41 months in prison for killing a man who physically verbally assaulted Cece and her friends with racial and anti-trans slurs before physically attacking them. Anyone with the most common understanding of justice would clearly look at this as Cece using self-defense, but the court saw the case differently and charged her with second-degree murder. She was placed in an adult male prison, even though Cece identifies as a woman. Talk about effed up! Luckily, Cece's case received a lot of press in the LGBTQ and black community and massive campaigns were launched in an attempt to get Cece out of jail early. Notably, she received support from Laverne Cox. After serving 19 months of jail time, Cece was released in January of 2014. Stay tuned for an upcoming documentary about Cece's story, which will be produced by Cox. Photo source: Supportcece.wordpress.com
Isis KingIsis King became the very first transgender model on the very popular (and seemingly never ending) reality show, America's Next Top Model. This meant that Isis' story was brought into millions of homes and, hopefully, helped change some inaccurate perceptions of what it means to be transgender. Photo source: WENN.com
Janet MockJanet Mock is one word: Awesome. She's the former editor of People magazine and recently released a book called Redefining Realness. She is a huge advocate for LGBTQ rights, particularly regarding violence against transgender women of color. She also started a Twitter hashtag called #GirlsLikeUs for empowering transgender girls and women. Honestly, there isn't a single thing about her that isn't totally lovable and admirable. Check her out! Photo source: WENN.com
Coy MathisThis precious little girl is Coy Mathis and her story is straight up groundbreaking. When her Colorado elementary school was forcing her to use the boy's bathroom, Coy (with the help of her supportive family) fought back. Her family sued the school and subsequently won a landmark court case which allows transgender students to use whichever bathroom corresponds with their gender. Way to go, Coy! Photo source: Autostraddle
Lea TLea T is a transgender model who is one of the most sought after models in the world. Perhaps one of the most awesome things about her is that she was deemed the Muse of Givenchy, the Haute Couture designer brand. Oh la la. Photo source: Instagram
Laura Jane GraceIf you're in the punk scene or just a lover of music, you've probably heard of the band Against Me!. In 2012, Laura came out as a transgender woman. Her wife has been super supportive of her from the jump and so have many folks in the punk community, although some fans were definitely confused and hateful after the announcement. But after suffering from gender confusion since childhood, it's clear that Laura is finally happy with her identity. Bad. Ass. Photo source: Instagram
Who are some other awesome transgender women more people should know about? Transgender men? Fictional characters? Let us know in the comments!