In late 2012, Vice President Joe Biden made the claim that transgender discrimination would become "the civil rights issue of our time."
In the year since his statement, America certainly has seen progress, both politically and socially, towards the full inclusion and validation of transgender-identifying individuals within our society. From solidified rights for transgender minors to representation of trans people and experiences on mainstream television -- what is means to be transgender is receiving arguably more mainstream recognition than at any prior point in our history.
That said, the battle for transgender rights and recognition is just beginning. However, as 2013 comes to a close, let us look back on, celebrate and remember some of the biggest moments involving the transgender community over the course of the last year.
Alex Wong via Getty Images
Following her trial for leaking classified government documents
, Chelsea Manning sent shockwaves through the nation when she announced her transgender identity and asked for the public's support.
"As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me," Manning said in a statement
. "I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible."
Chelsea Lauren via Getty Images
2013 was an incredible year for transgender actress and activist Laverne Cox. Not only did her groundbreaking "Orange Is The New Black" role launch her to superstardom, but Cox continued to be a a voice for the voiceless
when it comes to transgender issues, particularly those pertaining to women of color. Among a landslide of other honors throughout the course of the year, the transgender pioneer received the "Reader's Choice Award"
at this year's OUT 100.
In light of recent controversy
surrounding McDonald's treatment of the company's employees, one Washington franchise of the fast food chain impressively allowed transgender individuals to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity. The letter read,
We respect the rights of all customers and employees. We believe all people must have access to safe and dignified bathroom facilities regardless of their gender identity or expression. Therefore, the following policy has been adopted for this restaurant at 1530 3rd Avenue ... Employees and customers may use any restroom that corresponds with and is based upon the gender identity they publicly and exclusively assert or express.
Historically anti-gay pundit and conservative talk show host Pat Roberston made jaws drop collectively across the nation when he claimed that he didn't "think there's any sin associated with
" transgender people having gender confirmation surgery.
However, just a few weeks later he went on to counteract the minimal amount of progressive hope in his views by comparing transgender people to his castrated horse
Looks like some things never change.
DC Comic fans were introduced to Alysia in "Batgirl" #19 in early April, who went on to reveal
that she is transgender during a conversation with Barbara Gordon (Batgirl). The move made Alysia not only the first DC Comics transgender character but the first transgender character in mainstream comics.
In another challenge to the U.S. ban on transgender service members, Kristin Beck, who served 20 years as a Navy SEAL
and was once a member of the elite SEAL Team 6, came out as transgender in her memoir Warrior Princess: A U.S. Navy SEAL's Journey to Coming out Transgender
. "[P]erhaps this memoir, which documents the secret torment of one of the U.S. military's most effective and loyal agents, will lay the groundwork for even greater inclusion in the armed forces," The Atlantic Wire's J.K. Trotter wrote
When Ari South first appeared on "Project Runway" season eight, the designer embodied a different name and different identity. When she returned to "Project Runway All Stars" in October
, she was living as her authentic self and blazing through uncharted territory for transgender people both within -- and outside -- the fashion world.
For the first time in history, legislators in multiple states weighed the benefits of providing access to gendered spaces and organizations for public school students that identify as transgender, such as using the bathroom or playing on the sports team that corresponds with their gender identities.
California passed such legislation
in early July, inspiring this iconic freakout by "Fox and Friends"
and Michelle Malkin.
Other states also met these bills with resistance, with one Arizona lawmaker, John Kavanagh, attempting to push through legislation that would prosecute transgender people for using a public restroom if their appearance didn't match the listed gender on their identification.
One local new station dubbed this the "Show Me Your Papers Before You Go Potty
" bill. The backlash convinced the lawmaker
to tone down the language of his bill, and put it on hold
until next year.
In January 2012, Argentina passed a Gender Identity Law
that enables citizens to change their names and government-sanctioned sex on official documents without approval from a judge or doctor. In late September, 6-year-old Lulu became the first minor to legally change
their sex on a government document since officials initially passed the legislation.
Prior to California passing legislation that extended rights in public schools to transgender minors, Ashton Lee, a transgender teenager, petitioned California Governor Jerry Brown to sign the legislation. Not only did Lee deliver a petition to Brown that contained over 5,700 signatures
, but the teen also testified in front of the California Senate Education Committee about the bill's necessity to protect and value transgender individuals within the public school system.
Courtesy of Domaine Javier
Domaine Javier, a nursing student at California Baptist University, revealed to the world that she was transgender in an MTV episode of "True Life." The university's response? Accusations of fraud followed by expulsion
because Javier had given her gender as female on her admissions application. She went on to sue the institution.
During a historic year for LGBT athletes, Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter Fallon Fox came out as transgender in an early March interview with Outsports
. "I'm technically, legally, physically and mentally female. Everything about me is female," she stated. "I happen to fall into the transgender category, but I rather describe myself as a woman first, transsexual woman second."