Just some time back, hearing the term transgender would have made one jump out of the seats. No more. These days, more and more public figures are speaking out about their experiences and coming out to embrace their gender identities. Some celebrities, like Chaz Bono and Caitlyn Jenner, have transitioned in a very public forum. Other transgender celebs, like Orange Is the New Black’s Laverne Cox, have become inspirational spokespeople for the very real challenges that transgender people face in this country and around the world.
But there are many transgender celebrities who haven’t been in the spotlight quite as much. Here are few that you may not have necessarily known were transgenders.
In the late 2000s and early 2010s, Charice Pempengco became a bit of a sensation. After booking a recurring role on Fox’s hit show, Glee, the YouTube singer’s star began to rapidly rise. Of late, though, Pempengco has made headlines for a different reason: He revealed to fans that he would like to be known, not as a female, but as a male named Jake Zyrus.
At the age of 18, Janet Mock underwent gender transformation surgery. In 2011, she revealed her journey to the world in an interview with Marie Claire, where she worked as a contributing editor. Three years later, she released a best-selling memoir, Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More. She followed that success up with a second memoir, 2017’s Surpassing Certainty: What My Twenties Taught Me.
As host of MSNBC’s So POPular!, Mock has brought a vibrant energy to her work as a journalist. And she’s also made the most of her platform, working hard as an advocate for LGBTQ issues. She has been honored by The Advocate and GLSEN, among other organizations, for her efforts.
Comedian Ian Harvie knew that he was transgender from a young age. And he talks about that part of his identity openly, both in interviews and in his stand-up routines. He’s made waves for making jokes about being trans, and helped move the needle when it comes to LGBTQ-positive comedy. And he’s appeared in series like Amazon’s Transparent.
When Isis King first competed on Cycle 11 of America’s Next Top Model, she broke serious ground, even though she was eliminated pretty early on. That’s because she was the first transgender contestant on the popular reality series.
In 2007, Candis Cayne had a huge career breakthrough when she appeared on the ABC series Dirty Sexy Money. She also wound up breaking ground for transgender actors everywhere, because she was the first Trans person to have a recurring prime-time TV gig playing a transgender character.
Like her sister, Lana, Lilly Wachowski has built an incredible career as a filmmaker. She stood by her sister’s side as she announced that she was transgender. And, also like her sister, she has recently come out as being transgender herself. In 2016, she announced that she was undergoing gender transition, after struggling to come to terms with her identity for many years.
So tell us, did you’ll know that these celebrities were from the LGBTQ community?