Lili Ilse Elvenes, better known as Lili Elbe, was a transgender woman and one of the first identifiable recipients of sex reassignment surgery. Elbe was born in Denmark as Einar Magnus Andreas Wegener and was a successful artist under that name. She married a fellow artist, Gerta Gottlieb, in 1904. In 1930 Elbe went to Germany for sex reassignment surgery, which was experimental at the time. A series of four operations were carried out over a period of two years. At the time of Elbe's last surgery, her case was already a sensation in newspapers of Denmark and Germany. A Danish court invalidated the Wegeners' marriage in October 1930, and Elbe managed to get her sex and name legally changed, including receiving a passport as Lili Ilse Elvenes. She stopped painting, believing it to be something that was part of the identity of Einar. After the dissolution of her marriage, she returned to Dresden for a final surgery. In 1931 she had her fourth operation, to create a neo-vagina, and allow her to get married, should she wish to do so. She soon after died of transplant rejection. Actor Eddie Redmayne will be playing Elbe in a new motion picture, The Danish Girl, set for release early 2016.
Christine Jorgensen was an American transgender woman who was the first person to become widely known in the United States for having sex reassignment surgery. Jorgensen grew up in the Bronx, New York City. Shortly after graduating from high school in 1945, she was drafted into the U.S. Army for World War II. After her service, she attended several schools, worked, and around this time heard about transitioning surgery. She traveled to Europe and in Copenhagen, Denmark obtained special permission to undergo a series of operations starting in 1951. She returned to the United States in the early 1950s and her transformation was the subject of a New York Daily News front page story. She became an instant celebrity, using the platform to advocate for transgender people and became known for her directness and polished wit. She also worked as an actress and nightclub entertainer and recorded several songs.
Jamie Clayton is an American actress from Southern California. She moved to New York to pursue her dreams of a career as a make up artist. In 2010 she was the co-host and make up artist on VH1’s makeover show, TRANSform Me. In 2011 she was honored at one of OUT magazine’s annual “OUT 100” awards. In 2011 she had a speaking role in the HBO series Hung, followed by the lead part of Michelle Darnell in the interactive web series DIRTY WORK and then a role on the TV series ARE WE THERE YET? Clayton stars in the sensational new Netflix drama SENSE8 and is currently filming THE NEON DEMON, due for release in 2016. She is dating Keanu Reeves.
Caitlyn Jenner, formerly known as Bruce Jenner, is an American athlete known for winning the men's decathlon at the 1976 Summer Olympics. Since 2007 she has appeared on E!'s reality television program Keeping Up with the Kardashians and is currently starring in her own docu series I Am Cait, which focuses on her gender transition. She is undoubtedly the most famous openly transgender person in the world since she came out publicly in an April 2015 20/20 interview with Diane Sawyer. Jenner said she had dealt with gender dysphoria since her youth and that, "for all intents and purposes, I'm a woman." Jenner cross-dressed privately for many years and did hormone replacement therapy but stopped after the romance with Kris Kardashian in the early 1990s. Photographed by Annie Leibowitz, Caitlyn debuted her new look on the July 2015 cover of Vanity Fair. On June 1 she joined Twitter and broke President Obama's record, gaining over one million followers in less than four hours. Jenner received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award during the 2015 ESPY Awards on July 15, 2015. ESPN executive producer Maura Mandt said Jenner was given the award because "she has shown the courage to embrace a truth that had been hidden for years, and to embark on a journey that may not only give comfort to those facing similar circumstances, but can also help to educate people on the challenges that the transgender community faces."
Gigi is a Canadian actress and social media personality who educated her millions of followers on YouTube as she publicly transitioned. She has appeared on countless TV shows including GOOD WORK, PROJECT RUNWAY; ALL STARS and starred as herself in the online reality show THE AVENUE. She recently teamed up with Miley Cyrus in her Happy Hippie Foundation’s #InstaPride campaign and was featured in a spread in Marie Claire with the singer. She works with the make up company Too Faced and features their products in her entertaining and always fun YouTube tutorials. Most recently she introduced Miley Cyrus at the MTV VMA's, alongside a diverse, gender fluid group as the singer closed the show with a slew of fierce performers which included a number of the RuPauls Drag Race alums, as Cyrus debuted her new song DOOO IT, from her new album Miley Cyrus and Her Dead Petz.
Caroline "Tula" Cossey is an English model. She is one of the world's most well known trans women. After her surgery, Cossey ventured into a career in modeling and an active social life as a woman. She worked and dated in "stealth" mode, as many did at that time. Cossey appeared in magazines such as Australian Vogue and Harper's Bazaar, and worked extensively as a glamour model. She was a Page Three Girl for British tabloid The Sun and appeared in Playboy magazine. In 1981, Cossey was cast as an extra in the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only, appearing briefly in one scene. That one scene was enough to get her noticed and shortly after the film’s release in 1982, the British tabloid News of the World finally revealed that Cossey was transgender, with a front page headline reading "James Bond Girl Was a Boy." In 1982, Cossey responded by releasing I Am a Woman, her first autobiography. Since being outed by British tabloid News of the World, Cossey has fought for her right to legally marry and to be recognised by the law as a woman in the United Kingdom. She wrote a second autobiography, My Story, which comes out on audio books in the fall of 2015. She is married and currently resides in Atlanta.
Laverne Cox is an Emmy-nominated actress who can be seen in the Netflix original series Orange is The New Black where she plays the ground breaking role of Sophia Burset. She is the first trans woman of color to have a leading role on a mainstream scripted television show. Laverne’s work as an actress and advocate landed her on the cover of TIME Magazine as well as an Emmy nomination for “Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series.” Laverne continues to break boundaries and make history with accolades including a SAG Award for “Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series,” a Critic’s Choice nomination for “Best Supporting Actress,” and an NAACP Image Awards nomination for “Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.” In addition to her acting, Laverne is a renowned speaker and has taken her empowering message of moving beyond gender expectations to live more authentically all over the country. Her work as an advocate landed her a coveted spot as one of Glamour magazine’s 2014 Women of the Year. She has recently been cast in CBS' new legal drama pilot, "Doubt."
Andreja Pejic is a model who used to self-identify as neither male nor female but came out as a woman in July 2014, after her gender confirmation surgery. Pejić gained worldwide exposure in 2011 when she appeared in runway shows for several major designers like Jean-Paul Gaultier. Pejić has typically brushed off intrusive questions about her gender, body, identity, and sexuality. When Pejić does speak seriously about her gender, she has tended to defy others' attempts to label her. In response to a question about how she self-defines, Pejić said "Define, refine, constrict, package, and sell... No thank you. I would like to live in a world where your gender, nationality, sexual orientation, and, above all, financial status didn't affect the opportunities you are given in life, the way you're treated by others, and your overall freedom. In a world like that, I wouldn't be given such a complex definition". When pressed in an interview to reveal whether she saw a girl or boy in the mirror growing up, Pejić replied simply, "I saw a child”. Pejic currently fronts a new Make Up Forever campaign, Be Bold. Be Unexpected. Be You. She is currently filming a documentary. ANDREJ(A), about her transition and life with filmmaker Eric Miclette.
Janet Mock grew up in Honolulu and earned a masters degree in journalism while attending New York University. She became a staff editor at People.com for 5 years before telling her story of growing up trans in 2011 in Marie Claire magazine. She is currently a contributing editor for Marie Claire writing about pop culture, race and all things gender. In 2014 she released her memoir Redefining Realness: My Path To Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More. It debuted at number 19 on the New York Times Bestseller List. It was released on audio on August 25, 2015. She guest hosts on HuffPost Live and Entertainment Tonight along with her very own weekly pop culture show So POPular on MSNBC. After being named one of the smartest women on Twitter, Janet launched #GirlsLikeUs, a social media movement that empowers trans women. She is a fierce defender of violence against the trans community. She lives in New York City with her boyfriend, filmmaker Aaron Tredwell.
Jazz Jennings is an American teenage trans girl, YouTube celebrity, spokesmodel and LGBTQ rights activist. Jennings is notable for being one of the youngest publicly documented people to be identified as gender dysphoric, and for being the youngest person to become a national transgender figure. Jennings received national attention in 2007 when an interview with Barbara Walters aired on 20/20, which led to other high-profile interviews and appearances. Christine Connelly, a member of the board of directors for the Boston Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth (BAGLY), stated, "She 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." Her parents noted that Jazz was clear on being female as soon as she could speak. Jennings is an honorary co-founder of the TransKids Purple Rainbow Foundation, which she and her parents founded in 2007 to assist transgender youth. In 2013, she founded Purple Rainbow Tails, a company in which she fashions rubber mermaid tails to raise money for transgender children. Jennings hosts a series of YouTube videos about her life, titled I am Jazz, making her one of the youngest trans females in history to speak out on issues publicly. Jennings stars in the 11-part TLC reality TV series, I Am Jazz, which focuses on her life as a teenager and as a transgender youth, which premiered on July 15, 2015.
April Ashley was born in Liverpool. Ashley moved to Paris in the late 1950s where she began living as a woman and using the name Toni April. She joined the famous Carousel Theatre. At the age of 25, having saved £3,000, Ashley had her gender confirming surgery in May 1960, performed in Casablanca, Morocco by Dr Georges Burou. After returning to Britain, Ashley began using the name April Ashley and became a successful fashion model, appearing in such publications as VOGUE (photographed by David Bailey) and winning a small role in the film The Road to Hong Kong, which starred Bing Crosby and Bob Hope. After a friend sold her story to the media in 1961 under the headline "'Her secret is out", the Sunday People outed Ashley as a trans woman.Her film credit was instantly dropped. In 2005, after the passage of the Gender Recognition Act 2004, Ashley was finally legally recognized as a female and issued with a new birth certificate. In 2012 she was awarded an MBE, for services to transgender equality, by Prince Charles.
Aleshia Brevard underwent transitional surgery in Los Angeles in 1962, one of the first such operations in the United States. Under the stage name Lee Shaw, Brevard worked at Finocchio's, a San Francisco club, doing Marilyn Monroe impersonations. Later, she worked as a showgirl at The Dunes Hotel and as a Playboy Bunny at the famed Playboy Club on the Sunset Strip After playing the role of Sherry, opposite Don Knotts, in the movie The Love God, Brevard appeared in other films and broke into TV as a regular on the Red Skelton Show. She created the role of Tex on the daytime soap opera One Life To Live. As a woman, Brevard returned to teach theater at East Tennessee State, the same university she had attended as a boy. A true pioneer, she has penned 2 fascinating memoirs... The Woman I was NOT Born To Be and The Woman I WAS Born To Be. She is currently working on a novel, Bilbos Bend, which explores the provocative subject of what life might have been like had there been no options for gender confirming surgeries. She is now retired and lives on the Central Coast of California.
Zackary Drucker is an independent artist, cultural producer, and trans woman who breaks down the way we think about gender, sexuality, and seeing. She has performed and exhibited her work internationally in museums, galleries, and film festivals including the Whitney Biennial 2014, MoMA PS1, Hammer Museum, Art Gallery of Ontario, MCA San Diego, and SF MoMA, among others. Drucker is an Emmy-nominated Producer for the docu-series This Is Me,as well as a Co-Producer on Golden Globe and Emmy-winning Transparent. She is a cast member on the E! docu-series I Am Cait.
Candis Cayne is an American actress and performance artist. She grew up in Maui and shortly after high school she moved to New York, becoming well known in the downtown New York City nightclub scene. She made a name for herself as a choreographer and performer. Unaware of what a trans woman was until she lived in New York, about three years after her arrival Cayne realized that the term described how she felt about herself. Already performing as "Candis Cayne" at New York gay bar Boy Bar and as a featured performer at Tour in New York's Chelsea, she also participated in Wigstock, the annual drag festival in Manhattan's East Village. In 1995 Cayne appeared in the related documentary film Wigstock: The Movie, the comedy-drama film Stonewall, and the Universal Studios comedy feature film To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar, for which she also did choreography. In 1996, she had a supporting role in the comedy-drama film Always Something Better (a.k.a. Never Look Back). In 1997 Cayne co-starred in the music video for RuPaul's A Little Bit of Love with female impersonator Jazzmun. Cayne also starred as the title character in the 1998 independent film Mob Queen, and won the 2001 Miss Continental pageant. She was cast as Annaka Manners in the 2007 RuPaul film Starrbooty and appeared in a small part on the FX show Nip/Tuck. It was her role on ABC's prime time drama Dirty Sexy Money that brought her national attention in 2007 for portraying transgender mistress Carmelita. The role made Cayne the first transgender actress to play a recurring transgender character in primetime. Her warm and inviting personality paid off and she is now enjoying great success on E's docu-series I Am Cait as Caitlyn Jenner's confidante and friend.
Lina Bradford grew up in New York City, across the street from famed Carnegie Hall on the Upper West Side. She identified as trans at a young age and her career in entertainment began at an early age as a dancer. She studied modern ballet, tap and jazz for 11 years and performed in several companies throughout NYC. She performed at the East Village club Boy Bar and became fast friends with Candis Cayne. The pair performed together back in the '90's and have remained close. Those same moves she learned in rehearsals became a part of her signature style when she began her DJ career by performing throughout the gritty East Village scene. She traveled through Europe, appearing in Sardinia, St Tropez and Paris. Accolades soon came rolling in, including DJ of the year and Lifetime Achievement awards at the Glammys. She began a residence on Fire Island in 2005 and has been holding it down every weekend since. DJ Lina is often seen hosting the biggest private parties from NYC to most recently in Mykonos for her close friend, shoe designer Brian Atwood's 40th birthday party. Even with all her accomplishments, she feels as if she is just beginning to hit her stride. "Ive never felt more sexy and solidified in my life", she says. "This is by far the most beautiful spot I've been in".
Lea T. is a Brazilian-born, Italian-raised transgender fashion model. She is the muse of Riccardo Tisci, creative director of French luxury brand Givenchy; her professional last name of "T" stands for Tisci. She is the face of American hair-care brand Redken. She is also a pop culture icon of transgender advocacy in the LGBT community. She has been featured in editorials in VOGUE Paris, Hercules Magazine, Interview Magazine, Cover Magazine and Love Magazine. In 2011, she was also the cover star of two editions of the Spring/Summer 2011 edition of Love Magazine, one as the solo model and another featuring her kissing Kate Moss. In February 2015, Lea T was chosen by Forbes magazine as one of the 12 women who changed the Italian fashion scene, alongside names like Miuccia Prada, Anna Dello Russo and Franca Sozzani. In 2014 she became the face of American hair-care brand Redken, thus making her the first openly transgender model to front a global cosmetics brand.
Jennifer Finney Boylan is an American author and political activist. In 2014, she joined the faculty of Barnard College of Columbia University as the Anna Quindlen Writer-in-Residence, having previously been professor of English at Colby College in Maine. Her 2003 autobiography, She's Not There: A Life in Two Genders, was the first book by an openly transgender American to become a bestseller. Jennifer began her male to female transition in the year 2000. The transformation started with therapy, feminine clothing, and then taking female hormones. Nine years after she began her transition she published an article for the New York Times claiming, “my spouse and I love each other, and that our legal union has been a good thing – for us, for our children and our community”. She now makes appearances as the level headed friend of Caitlyn Jenner on the docu series I Am Cait, on E.
Holly Woodlawn is a transgender Puerto Rican actress and former Warhol Superstar who appeared in his movies Trash (1970) and Women in Revolt (1972). Holly grew up in Miami Beach, where she came out at a young age. Woodlawn adopted the name Holly from the heroine of Breakfast at Tiffany's, and in 1969 added the surname from a sign she saw on an episode of I Love Lucy. Woodlawn met Andy Warhol at the Factory, at a screening of Flesh. Through him she met Jackie Curtis, who cast Woodlawn in her play Heaven Grand in Amber Orbit in the autumn of 1969. In October, she was given a bit role in Trash, but impressed director Paul Morrissey so much so that she was given a much larger role. In 1970, she received word from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences that George Cukor, supported by others, was petitioning the Academy to nominate her for best actress for her work in Trash, however, nothing came of this campaign. In May 1971, Woodlawn replaced Candy Darling at the La Mama Theatre, New York in a production of Vain Victory written and directed by Jackie Curtis. Lou Reed references Woodlawn in his song Walk on the Wild Side in the opening lyric "Holly came from Miami, FLA”. Her memoir, A Low Life In High Heels, was an instant literary success.
Candy Darling grew up in Forest Hill, Queens and late at night would often take a short taxi ride to the LIRR train station then the train to Manhattan, frequently sitting across from Long Island starlet Joey Heatherton. Darling met Jeremiah Newton in the summer of 1966. The two would become friends and roommates, living together in Manhattan and Brooklyn until the time of Darling's death in 1974. She initially went by the name of Hope Slattery. According to Bob Colacello, Darling adopted this name sometime in 1963/1964 after she started going to gay bars in Manhattan and making visits to a doctor on Fifth Avenue for hormone injections. She met Andy Warhol in 1967, was a frequent guest at The Factory and quickly became known as one of Warhol's Superstars. She starred in Andy Warhol's films Flesh (1968) and Women in Revolt (1971), and was a muse of the protopunk band The Velvet Underground. Lou Reed based his song Candy Says on her. Photographer Peter Hujar famously photographed her on her death bed. The photo is iconic and is the cover image for the 2005 album I Am A Bird Now by Antony and the Johnsons. In 2009, C*NDY, the first transversal style magazine debuted. It is named for Candy Darling.
Geena Rocero is a transgender model and advocate. Rocero is the founder of Gender Proud, an advocacy and aid organization that stands up for the right of transgender people all over the world to "self-identify with the fewest possible barriers”. Rocero was born in Manila, Philippines. She began competing in beauty pageants at age 15. Rocero was discovered by a fashion photographer in a restaurant on the Lower East Side of Manhattan when she was 21 years old where she was then signed to top fashion agency NEXT Model Management and spent 12 years modeling for international swimsuit and beauty editorials, earning a large fan base. On March 31, 2014, in honor of International Transgender Day of Visibility, Rocero came out as transgender while giving a TED talk in New York City.
Tracy Africa grew up in New Jersey as Tracy Norman and became a fixture in the Harlem Ball scene. She was discovered by famed photographer Irving Penn and her modeling career catapulted a few days later when she was booked for Vogue Italia. She was featured in major advertising campaigns for Avon, Clairol, and Ultra Sheen. She moved back to New York in the early 90’s and founded the House of Africa. She became mother to the house, and was elected to the Ballroom Hall of Fame in 2001.
Marlo Bernier is a writer, director and actor based in Los Angeles. She cannot recall exactly when it was that she found herself with feelings of the female kind, but as with so many stories of trans women, it began very early and it’s safe to say that her first memory of such would have been at the age of four. Flash forward to 2007 when she was faced with a choice; transition or die. She chose to live and in so doing, she knew it would be impossible to continue to keep her secret any longer. She put it all on the line, publicly, and transitioned. By completing her gender journey, it has allowed her career as a filmmaker to flourish, especially with her most recent offering as the creator of MYRNA You’re Not Done Yet (a television pilot) which debuts at the Hollywood Film Festival on September 23, 2015. Ms. Bernier is an award-winning actor and filmmaker both on stage and screen. Currently in development is the short subject narrative called; La Decisión - starring Lauren Foster which she’ll direct (Miami 2016).
Angelica Ross is a musician and artist from Racine, NY. She was recruited by the U.S. Navy when she was 18. Angelica spent 6 months in the military stationed in Yokusko, Japan which ended abruptly after she was almost killed by a few of her shipmates who tried to force her to admit she was gay. That was a defining moment for her. When she returned to the United States, she began transitioning at the age of 19 while living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She began a long career of modeling & acting under the radar. Her agency was unaware of her gender, until she confided in a gay booking agent at the agency, who became a friend and ally, securing work in music videos, runway, print & commercial, which took away some of the stress by having someone on the “inside” who knew and was looking out for her. Angelica is now the Executive Director and CEO of TransTech Social Enterprise, a training academy and apprenticeship program that aims to empower, educate and employ the trans community through the use of technology while promoting innovation, independence and entrepreneurship. Angelica’s purpose in life and as an artist is to find a place of acceptance, love & respect through her music and art, within herself and not from the outside world.
Alexandra Billings is a well known American actress who famously played Donna, opposite Katherine Heigel, in the ABC film Romy and Michelle: A New Beginning. It was the first time a transgender actress played a transgender character in the history of television. She's had guest starring roles on Grey's Anatomy, Eli Stone, E.R., Karen Sisco, Nurses opposite Lynn Redgrave, and playing opposite Dot Jones in the Ryan Murphy pilot Pretty/Handsome. Alexandra has been acting since 1968 and has performed across the United States in hundreds of plays and musicals. She's played everyone from Mama Rose in Gypsy, to Mrs. Lynde in A Doll House. She is the recipient of five After Dark Awards and one Joseph Jefferson Award. Ms. Billings' activism stretches across the continent. She has won the TPA Award and the Rainbow Spirit Award, and she was inducted into the Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in Chicago in 2007. Living with AIDS since the mid-'80s, Alexandra chronicles her life journey in her blog, “Stilettos and Sneakers,” and also writes for GetOutLB, a Long Beach GLBT paper. Her life story From Schoolboy to Showgirl, produced by Alex Silets for PBS television, was recently nominated for an Emmy for Best Documentary. Billings is currently co-starring in Amazon's new show "Transparent" as Davina, a guide to Maura (played by Jeffrey Tambor) who is coming out as transgender late in life.
Trace Lysette has been cast in recurring roles in two upcoming TV comedies: brash head waitress Gloria Del Rey on NBC's new drama The Curse of the Fuentes Women and Gisele in the quirky Starz comedy Blunt Talk. She started her acting career in 2008 going out for cisgender (nontrans) roles. Her first break came in a guest spot as sex worker Lila on the 14th season of long-running crime procedural Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. It's an experience Lysette calls "a rite of passage in this business," and one shared by her friend and fellow out trans actress Laverne Cox. She never disclosed she was trans in the casting process. When she began the medical side of her transition some 13 years ago, the end goal in some circles was to become passable. Lysette is now on the hit series Transparent which can be found on Amazon.
Amanda Lepore is an American model, club kid, singer and performance artist. She has appeared in advertising for numerous companies, including M.A.C. Cosmetics, Mego Jeans, The Blonds, Swatch, CAMP Cosmetics, and Heatherette. Lepore is a regular subject and muse to photographer David LaChapelle, as well as other photographers, such as Terry Richardson. She participated in LaChapelle's Artists and Prostitutes 1985–2005 exhibit in New York, where she "lived" in a voyeuristic life-sized set. Lepore has also released several singles, many written by and/or recorded with Cazwell. In 2011 she released her debut studio album I...Amanda Lepore on Peace Bisquit. In October 1999, Swatch released "Time Tranny", a watch designed by LaChapelle with Lepore on the face. Lepore is currently working on her memoirs and a new album, both as yet untitled. Both for release in 2016. Amanda has recently been ordained in the State of New York to officiate wedding ceremonies.
Amanda Lear began her professional career as a fashion model in the mid-1960s and went on to model for Paco Rabanne and Ossie Clark among others. Around that time she met the Spanish surrealist painter Salvador Dalí and would remain his closest friend and muse for the next 15 years. Lear first came into the public eye as the cover model for Roxy Music's album For Your Pleasure in 1973. From the mid-1970s to the early 1980s, she was the queen of disco, mainly in Continental Europe and Scandinavia, signed to Ariola Records. Lear's first four albums earned her mainstream popularity, charting in the Top 10 on European charts, including the best-selling Sweet Revenge (1978). In the mid-1980s Lear positioned herself as one of the leading media personalities in Italy and in France where she hosted many popular TV shows. Amanda's 1980s musical output saw her experimenting with different genres and trying to revive her career by re-recording earlier hits to various levels of success. 1980s also saw her release two books: an autobiography My Life with Dalí and a novel L’Immortelle. She is currently enjoying success on stage, in her role as Divina, in Paris.