10 Transgender Celebs Who Have Broken Barriers for Themselves and Others
Our society is luckily becoming more tolerant, and transgender celebrities started getting more opportunities to shine. There may still be a long way to go to achieve proper trans representation in all spheres of media, but these celebrities on the list are making the road seem shorter by achieving incredible heights.
Bright Side wants to honor the trans celebrities who are working hard to change the world where their community can feel both safe and represented.
1. Michaela Jaé Rodriguez
The actress formerly known as Mj Rodriguez has been active in Hollywood since 2011, and starred in many projects, including her roles as Blanca in the series Pose and Carolyn in the movie Tick, Tick... Boom!. She made history when she became the first transgender actress to win a prestigious Golden Globe Award, opening the path for others.
2. Lilly and Lana Wachowski
The Wachowski sisters came to the public’s eye before they both came out as transgender, with the movie The Matrix, that they both had directed, winning over 40 awards and becoming one of the most famous movies of our time. After their coming-out, Lilly said that The Matrix “is a trans metaphor” that people weren’t quite ready for in 1999, as it is about “the desire for transformation.”
3. Elliot Page
Elliot Page, best known for his role in the movie Juno, came out as a trans man in 2020. He said that he expected to receive both a good amount of support and a good amount of negativity, which is, in his words, “essentially what happened.” He became the first trans man to appear on the cover of the Time magazine.
4. Sophie Xeon
Scottish musician Sophie developed a love for music at an early age when her father would play cassettes for her, so she got gifted the keyboard at about 10 years old, and that’s how she started to create music. She later went on and collaborated with worldwide famous stars including Madonna, Rihanna, and others.
5. Chella Man
The model Chella Man says that there is little representation for people like him: he is transgender, deaf, Jewish, and Asian, so he decided to “be his own representation.” He made his acting debut with the role of the mute superhero Jericho on the show Titans.
6. Nikkie de Jager
She came to fame as a make-up YouTuber under the name NikkiTutorials and now has nearly 14 million subscribers. Her video “The Power of Makeup”, which is about self-love and genuine love for make-up as an artistic tool rather than using it to impress somebody, went viral. It inspired a YouTube trend of girls embracing both their natural side and the side that loves wearing make-up for the sake of themselves.
7. Brian Michael Smith
Although he has been active in the industry since 2012, he did not come out as transgender until 2017 when he got an opportunity to play a trans character for the first time, on the show Queen Sugar. Since then, he became the first transgender black man in a regular role on television.
8. Jenna Talackova
The model was initially disqualified from participating in a Miss Universe Canada beauty pageant for being a trans woman, but she did not back down and called the organizers on discrimination, which ended the ban on the transgender people participating in the contest.
9. Candis Cayne
She became the first transgender woman with a major role on prime-time television when she played the role of Carmelita on Dirty Sexy Money. Her character was also transgender, which became a huge milestone for the representation, as trans people on TV and movies were usually portrayed in a negative light.
10. Laverne Cox
In 2013, Netflix series Orange is the New Black premiered with Laverne Cox as one of the main cast members. She got nominated for an Emmy, which made her the first trans person in history to do so.
Recently, she collaborated with a popular doll brand Barbie and got a Barbie doll modeled after her. She said that it is important as it will help trans kids celebrate themselves and “be reminded that trans is beautiful.” Growing up, Cox was forbidden from playing with Barbies, so she feels honored that she gets to “heal her inner child” by becoming an inspiration behind the doll.
Who is the first trans actor you remember seeing in a movie or TV show?