Exactly two years ago, I sat apprehensively in the reception area of the public health clinic in San Francisco's Castro neighborhood, waiting for my name to be called. If all went according to plan, I would leave that evening with my first prescriptions for estradiol and spironolactone -- day 1 on hormones. I had just come from work, and because only a handful of my colleagues knew about my transition, I was still presenting as a boy (albeit an androgynous one wearing gold eye shadow). I remember looking around the room at the other trans girls sitting nearby. I couldn't wait to be just like them -- to have people see me as my true gender and to finally start feeling comfortable in my body.
It was hard to believe that I had been closeted only two months earlier, and yet here I was, about to embrace the part of myself that I had been ashamed of for nearly all my life. I was ready. Since coming out, I had pored through several radical gender books, watched transition videos on YouTube and researched the hormones I was about to take. I knew what to expect in the weeks and months ahead.
Two years and 4,860 pills later, I now realize how little I actually understood back then. There were so many aspects of transitioning and being treated like a woman in society that I was totally unprepared for. And today I'd like to share 10 lessons that I wish I had known in February 2011.
(Note: This advice is based on my own personal experience as a queer, femme, white, upper-middle-class trans girl with "passing privilege," so some of it might not be applicable to you.)
1. Brace yourself for beauty culture.
This is especially true for my fellow femme girls, and there's a reason it's #1 on my list. Before I started presenting as female, I had no idea just how toxic beauty culture is in this country. Women are constantly inundated with airbrushed images and messages aiming to tear down our self-esteem and make us feel inadequate. Fashion magazines and the beauty industry make billions every year by exploiting these insecurities with the promise that if we only try harder to be prettier, we too can be happy.
As a trans girl, beauty culture can be especially difficult to navigate, because most of us have haven't been exposed to it very long. Our cis partners and friends have been dealing with it since middle school (if not earlier), and many have had years to develop effective coping strategies, so we DMAB ("designated male at birth") ladies have to make up for lost time, and on top of that, cissexist standards of beauty add another way for us to feel insecure.
It helps to maintain a sense of perspective. Many trans girls, including me, have a habit of romanticizing the cisgender experience. A month or two into my transition, I told my girlfriend that I couldn't wait until I could look in the mirror and see a pretty girl staring back at me. "You realize that's never going to happen, right?" was her response. "You're going to look at your reflection and feel unsatisfied -- just like every other woman." And it's true: Even the most gorgeous of my friends can list a dozen things she'd change about her appearance. So the next time you're feeling unattractive, don't blame yourself; blame capitalism and a beauty culture designed to make you feel that way.
2. Say goodbye to male privilege.
If, like me, you presented as a normative guy before transitioning, you probably didn't realize just how many privileges you were about to give up. I took so many little things for granted, like being able to walk outside or go to a bar without random men feeling the need to comment on my appearance. Sexual harassment is such a routine thing now that I can't even remember what life was like without it.
You'll probably also notice that people take you less seriously at work because of your gender and presentation. You'll have to be twice as assertive as you were before in order to get people to pay attention to your contributions, and you'll possibly be labeled a "bitch" for doing so.
3. People will surprise you.
Coming out as trans* is a great way to find out who your true friends are, and it's not always the people you'd first suspect. In my experience, if someone is a fundamentally good person, they will almost always be accepting, despite any religious or political misinformation about trans* people they may have learned. It's a lot harder to otherize being trans* when you know a trans* person personally. So try to give people the benefit of the doubt when coming out to them; you'll probably be pleasantly surprised.
4. Prepare for (micro)aggressions.
I grew up in a mostly white, conservative suburb where my family was considered "middle-class" because we didn't have a house on the water or a yacht. In other words, I lived in such a privileged bubble that I had never even heard of microaggressions until I started experiencing them after coming out. If, like me, you were presenting as a heternormative white boy before transitioning, these can seem a little jarring at first, but it's something that nearly everyone but straight, white cis men have to deal with on a regular basis. So what are microaggressions, exactly? In my case, it's every time a well-intentioned friend posts an article about a trans* person on my wall or remarks on my physical changes since the last time they saw me, or every time someone asks if my girlfriend and I are sisters (even if we're holding hands). It's the little interactions that happen every day that remind you that you are "different" in some way.
(Unfortunately, many trans* people, especially trans women of color, face more than just microaggressions. They are often subjected to discrimination, violence and institutional hostility. I realize that I am incredibly privileged, and in no way am I trying to diminish the struggles of others, but microaggressions are still unpleasant and something that I was not prepared for.)
5. Go to therapy.
Seriously, you should go to therapy. I don't think it should be required to "prove" your gender before starting hormones, but it's something that I'd recommend for every person going through transition. It's an incredibly emotional time, full of triumphs and setbacks and too many feelings to process all by yourself, so take care of your mental health by discussing them with a therapist. I didn't start seeing one until more than seven months into my transition, and in hindsight I think that waiting as long as I did was a mistake.
6. Pursue other interests.
Transitioning is such a monumental undertaking that it's easy to let it consume all the other aspects of your life if you're not careful. That's why it's important to maintain other hobbies and interests during this time. Make time to read books that have nothing to do with gender, listen to music, learn a new language, go for a walk, you name it. The important thing is to take a break from thinking about being trans*, even for an hour or two. You'll start to drive yourself crazy after a while if you don't.
7. Take a deep breath and be patient.
Hormones are incredible, but they take time to work their magic. You're not going to notice results overnight. When I first started HRT, I couldn't wait for the weeks and months to go by. I looked forward to each new dose, because it meant that I was one step closer to feeling comfortable in my own body. I fantasized about ways to fast-forward the next couple of years so that I could finally start enjoying life as my true self. But in constantly looking to the future, I often neglected all the amazing and wonderful things happening around me. I found it hard to simply be in the moment.
My girlfriend and I have recently started practicing mindfulness meditation, and it's been a really useful tool to help me stay present. I'd recommend it to anyone looking to slow time down and experience life in the moment. A little anticipation can be a good thing, but our life will pass us by if we're only focused on what lies ahead.
8. Save money.
Transitioning is really expensive. Currently only a handful of insurance companies offer trans*-inclusive health care benefits, which means that many people have to pay for medications, lab tests and doctor's visits out of pocket. Laser hair removal and electrolysis are also quite pricey and are never covered by insurance, because they are considered "cosmetic" procedures. Changing your legal name and gender in California will set you back at least another $500. And buying an entirely new wardrobe isn't cheap, either. Bottom line: Start saving now. Your future self will thank you for it.
9. Don't expect transitioning to solve all your problems.
When I was still closeted, I often blamed every unpleasant experience or emotion on the fact that I had to pretend to be a boy. "One day," I would tell myself, "I'll be able to finally be myself, and I'll be pretty and carefree and never have to deal with this again." And it's true that transitioning has made a lot of things better. I connect on a much deeper level with my girlfriend and other people. I'm a kinder and more empathetic person. Little things like painting my nails and getting to express myself through fashion make my days more colorful and enjoyable. I'm so much happier now that I'm no longer hiding who I really am.
But transitioning is not a panacea; it won't solve all your problems. If you were prone to anxiety before coming out, you'll probably still have to deal with it afterwards. I still sometimes get in stupid arguments with my girlfriend for no good reason, just like I did two years ago. I'm still addicted to caffeine, and I sometimes forget to turn the lights off when I leave my apartment in the morning. At some point in my transition, I came to terms with the fact that living as my true gender wouldn't magically fix everything. And it felt really good to let go of that impossible expectation.
10. You do you.
Most trans* people spend years pretending to be someone we aren't in order to please others: our parents, our friends, our classmates or society in general. And most of us make ourselves miserable because of it. With each passing day, it gets harder for me to remember what it was like to interact with a world that perceived me as a boy, but I'll never forget how exhausting it felt to be cast as the wrong character in a seemingly never-ending play.
Before coming out as trans*, I never allowed myself to fully relax. I constantly policed my gender presentation and mannerisms to make sure that I wouldn't raise suspicion. I was terrified that someone would learn the truth about my gender. But one thing that transitioning has taught me is that life is too short to worry about what others think of you. There are more than 7 billion people on this planet, and some of them are inevitably going to disapprove of you and your life choices. For me, the decision is simple: I'd rather face the possibility of rejection then spend another minute in the closet.
Most people don't ever get the chance to spontaneously and completely reinvent themselves, but trans* people do. Take advantage of this opportunity by being the most authentic you that you can be, and don't worry about trying to conform to society's expectations of how someone like you is "supposed to" look or act. If you're a trans girl who enjoys rugby and hates dresses, don't let anyone try to deny the validity of your gender. If you're a trans guy who loves sparkles and makeup, own it. And if you're trans* but don't feel comfortable in either binary category of "male" or "female," resist the pressure to pick one. Be proud of who you are, and don't be afraid to show it. You deserve to live an authentic life.
So there you have it, 10 things that I wish I'd learned before embarking on the incredible adventure of the past two years. There are many others that didn't make the list, such as realizing that girls can sometimes be just as gross as guys. (I thought the transition would mean an end to unpleasant public bathrooms, but I was wrong.) I'm undoubtedly still learning; I don't claim to have everything figured out at this point. But my two-year anniversary on hormones seems like the perfect time to begin the next chapter of my life, a chapter that focuses less on my gender and the fact that I was DMAB.
Also on The Huffington Post:
Award-winning filmmaker <a href="http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0905154/">Lana Wachowski</a>, who's best known for co-writing and -directing the "Matrix" trilogy with her brother, Andy Wachowski, is the first major Hollywood director to come out as transgender in July 2012. The Chicago native recently released "Cloud Atlas" and <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/24/lana-wachowski-transgender-cloud-atlas-director-reveals-pain-suicide-attempt_n_2009112.html">received the Human Rights Campaign's Visibility Award</a> in October 2012, where she delivered a revealing and heartfelt speech (VIDEO).
The son of Cher and Sonny Bono, Chaz publicly revealed <a href="http://www.tvguide.com/News/Chastity-Bono-Gender-1006849.aspx" target="_hplink">he was transitioning in 2009</a> and since then has been one of the most visible members of the trans community. In May he published his memoir, "Transition: The Story Of How I Became A Man," and this fall he was a contestant on "Dancing With The Stars" and was named one of <em>Out</em> magazine's <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/08/chaz-bono-shows-off-his-stubble-in-out_n_1082303.html" target="_hplink">100 LGBT people of the year.</a>
Since coming out as transgender last May, People.com editor <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/05/lgbt-history-month-transgender-janet-mock_n_1922470.html">Janet Mock</a> has become a prominent voice and face for the trans community. She's been named to The Grio's 100 most influential people and Sundance Channel's top 10 LGBT voices. In early November 2012, Mock was honored with the prestigious Sylvia Rivera Activist Award by the Sylvia Rivera Law Project.
In 1952, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1989/05/04/obituaries/christine-jorgensen-62-is-dead-was-first-to-have-a-sex-change.html">Christine Jorgensen became the first widely known person to undergo sexual reassignment surgery</a>. The late trans activist, who died at 62 in 1989, decided the intrigued media wouldn't dictate her image. Jorgensen openly spoke about her transition and once said, "I decided if they wanted to see me, they would have to pay for it." Before her transition, Jorgensen served as a clerk in the Army and in 1967 she released a memoir, "Christine Jorgensen: A Personal Biography."
Silveira is the lead singer of the band The Cliks. The Cliks made history as <a href="http://www.phinli.com/Talent/Profile/lucas-silveira" target="_hplink">the first band with an openly trans male leader</a> signed by a major record label, Tommy Boy Entertainment's imprint Silver Label. In 2009 he made history again as the f<a href="http://www.chartattack.com/news/78485/avril-lavigne-lights-tegan-and-sara-cliks-franz-ferdinand-sloan-win-in-15th-annual-year-e" target="_hplink">irst transman to be voted Canada's Sexiest Man</a> by readers of Canadian music magazine <em>Chart Attack</em>.
The Brazilian supermodel was discovered by Givenchy designer Riccardo Tisci when <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/lea-givenchys-transgender-star-brazilian-supermodel-undergoing-sex/story?id=11269995#.TsV9BGVPlcg" target="_hplink">he hired her as his personal assistant</a>. Soon after she became his muse and her modeling career began. She has been featured in high-profile fashion magazines like "Vogue Paris," "Hercules," "Interview," "Love," and "Cover."
Richards is an ophthalmologist, author, and former professional tennis player. After transitioning in 1975, she <a href="http://www.tennispanorama.com/archives/9472" target="_hplink">was banned from playing in the U.S. Open</a> by the United States Tennis Association (USTA) because only biological women were allowed to participate in the tournament. Richards fought the ban and a 1977 New York Supreme Court decision ruled in her favor. She continued to play until 1981. This fall <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/27/renee-richards-film_n_854578.html" target="_hplink">a documentary about Richards's life</a>, "Renée," was released.
King was the first (and, thus far, only) <a href="https://www.facebook.com/isisking" target="_hplink">trans model to be featured</a> on the reality fashion competition "America's Next Top Model." She was seen on both the 11th and 17th "cycles" of the show.
In 2008 Thomas Beatie became famous when he revealed that he was pregnant with his first child. Soon after Beatie and his wife, Nancy, made headlines and he became known as "the pregnant man." The couple now has three children, all carried by Thomas, and he recently revealed that he is <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/31/pregnant-man-thomas-beati_n_1067326.html" target="_hplink">considering undergoing a hysterectomy.</a>
Dr. Marci Bowers is a <a href="http://marcibowers.com/" target="_hplink">pioneer in the field of transgender transitional surgery</a> and is the first known trans woman to perform these types of procedures. After practicing in Trinidad, Colo., which is known as the "sex change capital of the world" due to the high number of surgeries performed there, she moved her practice to San Mateo, California, in December 2010.
Cayne made history when she accepted a role on "Dirty Sexy Money" and became the first transgender actress to play a recurring transgender character in prime time. She's also appeared on "Nip/Tuck," "RuPaul's Drag Race," and "Necessary Roughness."
In 2006 Iwamoto was <a href="http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,229937,00.html#ixzz1eCixXAuI" target="_hplink">elected to a position on Hawaii's state Board of Education</a> and became (at the time) the highest-elected transgender official in the United States. She <a href="http://hawaii.gov/elections/results/2010/general/files/histatewide.pdf" target="_hplink">ran for re-election in 2010</a> and won. See a video of Iwamoto discussing her support of an anti-bullying bill in Hawaii by <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UgqswbrLsRM">clicking here.</a>
Kye Allums is the <a href="http://www.lgbtqnation.com/2011/10/lgbt-history-month-kye-allums-first-openly-transgender-athlete/" target="_hplink">first openly transgender athlete to play NCAA Division I</a> college basketball. He was a shooting guard on the George Washington University women's basketball team until this year when he decided to no longer play. Allums is now busy speaking about his life around the country.
Jenna Talackova <a href="http://www.thehollywoodgossip.com/2012/04/jenna-talackova-i-was-born-in-the-wrong-body/">made headlines in April 2012</a> when she was booted from the Miss Universe Canada pageant. Talackova fought back and ultimately was allowed back into the competition. She spoke with Barbara Walters and said, "I feel like the universe, the creator, just put me in this position as an advocate," she continues. "If it's helping anybody else by sharing my story and with my actions, then I feel great about it."
A veteran of the 1969 Stonewall uprising (some claim she threw the first heel), Rivera fought for the rights of all queer people, not just those who fit into more homonormative molds. Described by Riki Wilchins as "<a href="http://www.villagevoice.com/2002-02-26/news/a-woman-for-her-time/" target="_hplink">the Rosa Parks of the modern transgender movement</a>," Rivera founded Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, or STAR, "a radical group that did everything from marching to setting up crash pads as an alternative to the streets," among other activist roles. Today <a href="http://srlp.org/" target="_hplink">The Sylvia Rivera Law Project,</a> which works to guarantee that all people are free to self-determine gender identity and expression regardless of income or race, and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/pages/SYLVIAS-PLACE/156906310002" target="_hplink">Sylvia's Place</a>, a NYC emergency homeless shelter for LGBT youth, both exist to honor Rivera's life and work.
Tipton was a saxophone and piano player and bandleader popular during the 1940's and '50s. He eventually settled down in Spokane, Washington, got married, and adopted three sons. It wasn't until after his death from a <a href="http://news.stanford.edu/stanfordtoday/ed/9705/9705fea601.shtml" target="_hplink">hemorrhaging ulcer</a> that Tipton's birth gender was revealed to his sons and the rest of the world.
Sanchez worked tirelessly in the LGBT community before he became the <a href="http://www.examiner.com/transgender-transsexual-issues-in-national/diego-sanchez-trans-man-on-capitol-hill-works-for-passage-of-inclusive-enda" target="_hplink">first trans person to hold a senior congressional staff position</a> on Capitol Hill. In December 2008 he began working for Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) tracking LGBT, healthcare, veterans, and labor issues.
The transgender activist <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/26/lgbt-history-month-icon-laverne-cox_n_2011651.html">Laverne Cox</a> came to our attention when she first appeared on VH1's "I Want to Work for Diddy," which made her the first African-American transgender woman to be on a mainstream reality TV series. The show went on to win GLAAD's media award for outstanding reality program in 2009 where Cox accepted the honor and spoke about transgender visibility (VIDEO). Since appearing on Diddy's show, Cox got her own VH1 reality series, "TRANSform Me," which got its own GLAAD media award nomination in 2011. The pioneer continues her advocacy in public engagements and frequently writes about trans issues for <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/laverne-cox/"><em>The Huffington Post</em></a>.
The <a href="http://katebornstein.typepad.com/" target="_hplink">writer, playwright, and performance artist</a> is the author of several seminal tomes on gender theory including 1994's "Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us" and in 2006 she wrote "Hello Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks and Other Outlaws." Her first memoir, "<a href="http://www.amazon.com/Queer-Pleasant-Danger-Memoir/dp/0807001651">A Queer And Pleasant Danger</a>," was published in May 2012.
The world's first female-to-male porn star, Angel also works as an advocate, educator, lecturer and writer. In 2007 <a href="http://buckangel.com/bio.html" target="_hplink">Angel won the Adult Video News Transsexual Performer of the Year</a> award and was written into Armistead Maupin's "Michael Tolliver Lives," one of the novels in the "Tales Of The City" series. He has spoken around country, including an appearance at Yale University in 2010.
Rasmussen became the <a href="http://www.sturasmussen.com/realityCheck.htm" target="_hplink">first transgender mayor in the United States</a> when he was elected to the office in Silverton, Oregon, in November 2008. He writes on <a href="http://www.sturasmussen.com/realityCheck.htm" target="_hplink">his website</a>: <blockquote>"I just happen to be transgendered -- something I didn't even know the word for until I discovered it on the Internet. I've been a crossdresser or transvestite my whole life, only 'coming out' recently and thereby discovering that life goes on very nicely."</blockquote>
In 1976 <a href="http://www.lousullivansociety.org/about-lou-sullivan.html" target="_hplink">Lou G. Sullivan began applying for</a> sex-reassignment surgery, but was rejected because he identified as gay. At the time, "female-to-gay male transsexuality was not recognized by the medical/psychotherapeutic establishment as a legitimate form of gender dysphoria at that time." After mounting a successful campaign to get homosexuality removed from a list of objections which served to keep interested candidates from undergoing surgery, Sullivan finally obtained genital reconstruction surgery in 1986. That same year <a href="http://www.lousullivansociety.org/about-lou-sullivan.html" target="_hplink">he organized FTM</a>, "the first peer-support group devoted entirely to female-to-male [transsexual and transvestite] individuals."
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/24/lgbt-history-month-icon-chris-tina-bruce_n_1932941.html">Chris Tina Bruce</a> became the first transgender bodybuilding contestant in to participate in a competition in San Diego in 2011. Bruce doesn't necessarily identify as male or female, rather as someone who sits in the middle of the gender spectrum. As a motivational speaker, fitness trainer and LGBT-rights activist, Bruce works to increase awareness of gender fluidity and was recently featured on National Geographic Channel's "Taboo: Changing Genders" in September.
Dr. Carys Massarella is likely the <a href="http://www.thespec.com/news/local/article/626304--doctor-is-fighting-for-transgender-community">first transgender president of a hospital medical staff in the world</a>, working at St. Joseph’s Healthcare hospital in Ontario, Canada. The pioneering health care physician works to educate the medical world on trans issues and the best patient care services for trans individuals.
In October, Allyson Robinson, <a href="http://www.hrc.org/staff/profile/allyson-robinson">the Human Rights Campaign's first deputy director for employee programs</a>, became the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/25/allyson-robinson-transgen_n_2016086.html">leader of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and OutServe</a>, LGBT armed services support groups that merged. The transgender activist is an army veteran and graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point. Her new appointment signals perhaps the next battle in transgender rights and visibility in the military.
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/15/lgbt-history-month-icon-marsha-p-johnson_n_1955668.html">Marsha P. Johnson</a> (P for "Pay it no mind!") was a revered LGBT-rights activist and widely regarded mother figure who reached out and helped homeless NYC LGBT youth. She helped start S.T.A.R, Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, a group formed in the early '70s to feed street youth around the city. In the 1969 Stonewall Riots, Johnson fought back against the police raids, standing up against discrimination. Her death in 1992 was written off as a suicide by police, but many believe the late icon was a hate-crime victim.
A contestant on the popular reality TV show "RuPaul's Drag Race" season three, <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/tv/ct-red-carmen-carrera-q-and-a-20120606,0,3578043.story?page=1">Carmen Carrera</a> competed as a drag queen and later came out as a transgender woman in May 2012 via an episode of ABC's "What Would You Do?" (VIDEO). The 27-year-old Carrera <a href="http://www.youtube.com/user/CarmenCarreraChannel">documents her transition process on her YouTube page</a>.
Dillon was the first person known to have transitioned both hormonally and surgically from female to male. A British writer, physician, philosopher, and Buddhist, Dillon penned several books including, "Self: A Study in Ethics and Endocrinology" (1946), "Growing Up into Buddhism" (1960), "The Life of Milarepa" (1962), "Imji Getsul" (1962), and numerous articles. He was in love with another famous transgender person, Roberta Cowell, but she did not share his feelings. He died in India -- where he had moved to study, meditate, and wrote under the name Lobzang Jivaka -- just days after sending his memoir, "Out Of The Ordinary," to his literary agent.
Ali Forney was a NYC homeless transgender youth whose name has become known through the <a href="http://www.aliforneycenter.org">Ali Forney Center</a>, a NYC LGBT safe space and homeless shelter named in his memory. Forney, who was known as "Luscious" when presenting as a woman, was murdered in Harlem in the 1997.
Nong Ariyaphon Southiphong was formerly known as Andy South on "Project Runway" season eight. Southiphong <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/21/nong-ariyaphon-southiphon-project-runway-transgender-transition-_n_1904203.html">came out as a transgender woman in September 2012</a> and said, "I am blessed to be so accepted and welcomed just the way I am. May that love flow through me and onto many others. Live in love for the world needs it."
Singer-songwriter Our Lady J landed in the spotlight when her friendship with "Harry Potter" star Daniel Radcliffe became fodder for the gossip magazines in 2009. Since then, she's been featured in an <a href="http://www.out.com/entertainment/2010/08/08/daniel-radcliffe-and-our-lady-j-odd-couple">Out magazine cover story</a> with her British pal and has played sold out shows around the world. Her debut album is due out in early 2013.
<a href="http://www.paulinepark.com/about/">Pauline Park</a>, born in and adopted from Korea, has become a trailblazer for both the Asian and transgender communities. Her advocacy work includes co-founding and chairing the <a href="http://nyagra.com">New York Association for Gender Rights Advocacy</a> group and starting the <a href="http://www.queenspridehouse.org/wordpress/">Queens Pride House</a> and Iban/Queer Koreans of New York organization. New York City honored Park by making her its <a href="http://iamkoreanamerican.com/2010/01/07/pauline-park/"">first openly transgender grand marshal for the 2005 Pride parade</a>.
<a href="http://www.oddee.com/item_98038.aspx">Balian Buschbaum</a> underwent sexual reassignment surgery in 2008 after retiring from pole vaulting. Buschbaum was Germany's second best female pole vaulter and <a href="http://www.sports-reference.com/olympics/athletes/bu/yvonne-buschbaum-1.html">competed in the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games</a>. After his operation, <a href="http://malecelebbio.com/2012/03/09/balian-buschbaum/">Buschbaum said</a>, "Courage is the road to freedom. I woke up in complete freedom today. The sky is wide open."
<a href="http://www.law.mmu.ac.uk/academic-staff/">Stephen Whittle</a> is a professor of equalities law at Manchester Metropolitan University in the U.K. and has been a prominent transgender-rights activist. Whittle, who was recognized with the Order of the British Empire, was <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/sex/7867780/So-I-had-a-sex-change.html">instrumental to the European Court of Human Rights' creation of the Gender Recognition Act</a>, legislation that allows trans people to change their legal gender. Whittle co-founded Press for Change, a lobbying group for trans individuals and openly speaks about being transgender to his students. He said in a <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/sex/7867780/So-I-had-a-sex-change.html">2010 article in a U.K. newspaper</a>, "I won’t stop until I have won equal rights for the trans community. We’ve still a long way to go."
Maddie Blaustein was perhaps best known as the <a href="http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2008-12-16/pokemon-voice-actress-maddie-blaustein-passes-away">voice of Meowth on the popular anime series of "Pokémon."</a> The late voice actress was also Solomon Moto in "Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters" and "Yu-Gi-Oh! Capsule Monsters." In addition to her voice work, the openly transgender Blaustein was a comedian and comic book writer who created <a href="http://trans-ponder.com/maddieb/index.html"> the first comic with transgender characters</a>.
Ben Barres is an openly transgender professor of neurobiology at Stanford University. The academic scholar boasts degrees from MIT, Dartmouth and Harvard and brings a unique perspective to gender roles in the scientific community, having gone through <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/12/AR2006071201883.html">sexual reassignment surgery at 42</a> in 1997. He said his experience has given him a unique insight on the biases that women are less successful in science. In 2006, Barres <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/18/science/18conv.html?pagewanted=all">spoke with The New York Times</a> and said, "I am very different from the average person. But I have experienced life both as a woman and as a man. I have some experience of how both sexes are treated."
Grace is the lead singer of punk band Against Me! She publicly discussed her struggles with gender dysphoria this year, coming out as transgender. When she <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/29/against-me-transgender-laura-jane-grace-debut_n_1553356.html">announced the news at a concert</a> it was followed by the song "Transgender Dysphoria Blues." Speaking to <a href="http://www.rollingstone.com/">Rolling Stone</a> she said: "The cliché is that you're a woman trapped in a man's body, but it's not that simple. It's a feeling of detachment from your body and from yourself. And It's shitty, man. It's really fucking shitty."
Anna Grodzka became <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2059043/Anna-Grodzka-Worlds-transsexual-MP-takes-seat-Polish-parliament.html">Poland's first transgender woman to serve on its parliament</a> when she was elected in 2011. On her victory, Grodzka said, "It is a symbolic moment, but we owe this symbolism not to me but to the people of Poland because they made their choice." The 58-year-old leader added, "They wanted a modern Poland, a Poland open to variety, a Poland where all people would feel good regardless of their differences. I cannot fail them in their expectations."
<a href="http://www.mhorton.net/prof.html">Mary Ann Horton</a> is a prominent computer scientist who spearheaded Usenet (one of the oldest computer network communications systems) and was one of the developers of Berkeley UNIX, which became Sun Microsystems' software platform. Not only is Horton a leader in business, but she is <a href="http://www.giganews.com/usenet-history/horton.html">a vocal diversity advocate</a>, speaking up for LGBT equality in the workplace. Horton chairs the <a href="http://www.tgender.net/taw/">"Transgender at Work"</a> project and is a board member of the national organization. <a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mary_Ann_Hortonp.jpg"><em>Photo Courtesy of Wiki Commons / Mary Ann Horton</em></a>
Cowell is the first British trans woman to undergo sex-reassignment surgery. She transitioned in 1951. Prior to that, she was a Spitfire pilot during World War II and a race car driver. Cowell, who was friends with transgender man Michael Dillon, transitioned a year before celebrated American trans woman <a href="http://www.transgenderzone.com/features/ChristineJorgensen.htm" target="_hplink">Christine Jorgenson</a> underwent surgery in Denmark. You can <a href="http://www.changelingaspects.com/Life Stories/Roberta Cowells Story.htm" target="_hplink">read Cowell's autobiography here</a>.
Comedian <a href="http://ianharvie.com/biography">Ian Harvie</a> is the world's first trans male comedian and was declared "most unique stand-up comic in the country" by <em>Frontiers</em> magazine. The Portland, Maine native <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ian-harvie">became Margaret Cho's opening act</a> for her fall 2006 tour and later produced and hosted his own self-titled live comedy show in Los Angeles. Harvie frequently works with LGBTQ fundraisers and mentors trans men around the nation.
Heather Cassils is a Canadian performance artist, body builder and personal trainer now living in Los Angeles. Unlike other artists working in more traditional mediums, Cassils uses her body to investigate issues related to gender, mass consumption and the industrial production of images, among others. Her conceptual pieces, which have been performed in museums and galleries around the world, also highlight transgender or "genderqueer" themes, like in "Cuts: A Traditional Sculpture," for which she spent 23 weeks documenting herself building her body to its maximum capacity by following a strict weightlifting regime, consuming the caloric intake of a 190-male athlete, and taking mild steroids. She also starred in Lady Gaga's "Telephone" video. Earlier this year Cassils <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/09/heather-cassils-creates-v_n_1660244.html">told The Huffington Post</a>: <blockquote>"If you're not going to exist as your biologically-assigned gender or you're not operating [as a transgender person] on one end of the gender spectrum, then you end up in that in between space, inviting that scrutiny... I'm trying to push or create a kind of visual language for my subjectivity -- trying to create visual options. You can tap into people's psyches and have them imagine things that they don't yet have words for. I think that's very powerful. I'm trying to create a slippery language, one -- much like my body -- that doesn't fit."</blockquote>
Writer-producer-director <a href="http://www.andreajames.com/biography.html">Andrea James</a> started her career making advertisements for Chicago companies but later moved into film and television, creating Deep Stealth Productions, which produces more accurate and positive content of transgender people. James is also known for voice coaching trans women. She worked with actress Felicity Huffman in her Oscar-nominated role in "Transamerica," and in 2008, she joined the board of directors of Outfest.
<a href="http://paul.jaquays.com/about.htm">Jennell Jaquays</a> is an American game designer and artist who's worked on titles such as "Dungeons & Dragons," "Age of Empires III" and "Halo Wars." Jaquays came out as a trans in December 2011, posting an open letter on her blog (<a href="http://www.facebook.com/notes/jennell-jaquays/jennells-journnall-outing-myself/194994110592589">also found on Facebook</a>), saying, "I have decided that I’m not going to hide, become invisible, or try and keep this a secret. That part of my transition is over. I have been a relatively high profile artist and game developer my entire career and I don’t see that changing because I am now acknowledging that I am, oh, by the way, transsexual."
The unmistakable iconic figure <a href="http://www.queenmother.tv/nyc/amanda/amanda_main.php">Amanda Lepore</a> has captured the media's attention for years. She is a living work of art, frequently featured as photographer David LaChapelle's muse. The New York City transgender nightlife entertainer's recent work includes singles "Champagne" and "My Hair Looks Fierce." Designer Jason Wu also made an Amanda Lepore doll.
Kim Petras <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1135724/From-Tim-Kim-German-pop-star-16-worlds-youngest-transsexual-sex-change-op.html">made headlines in 2009 as the "world's youngest transsexual,"</a> undergoing sexual reassignment surgery at 16 years old. Petras, a German pop singer, started taking hormones at 12. She <a href="http://newsroom.mtv.com/2009/02/05/kim-petras-formerly-tim-becomes-worlds-youngest-transsexual-pop-star/">released her first single, "Last Forever,"</a> which became a hit on YouTube.
<a href="http://www.unither.com/executive-officers">Martine Rothblatt</a>, chairman and chief executive officer of United Therapeutics Corporation (Unither), founded the company in 1996 and placed <a href="http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2011/fortune/1109/gallery.highest_paid_women.fortune/7.html">seventh on CNNMoney's 2011 "25 highest-paid women" list</a>. Prior to Unither, Rothblatt, who <a href="http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2010/0510/second-acts-pharmaceuticals-orphan-drugs-pah-deep-breaths.html">underwent gender reassignment surgery in 1994</a>, founded and chaired Sirius Satellite Radio. <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/transhumanism/27983355/"><em>Photo Courtesy of Flickr User transhumanism</em></a>
In a role that earned Hilary Swank an academy award, the actress brought the story of <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/2020/story?id=132702&page=1#.UJEiPUJAukA">Brandon Teena</a>, to life on the big screen in "Boys Don't Cry." The 1999 film was one of the first mainstream Hollywood productions that featured a trans person as its main character. Brandon Teena was raped by two men. He reported the attack to the police but wasn't taken seriously. Teena's assailants later murdered him on New Year's Eve 1993 as an act of revenge.
Eden Lane is the only known openly transgender mainstream television broadcaster in the U.S.</a> She hosts "In Focus with Eden Lane," a Colorado Public Television weekly program where Lane talks about the arts and culture. The affable journalist never sought out to be a role model, and until a recent <a href="http://www.denverpost.com/johnmoore/ci_21804703/denver-tv-host-eden-lane-opens-up-about?IADID=Search-www.denverpost.com-www.denverpost.com">October interview with the Denver Post</a>, Lane had not shared her own story. She also <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/28/eden-lane-transgender-broadcast-journalist_n_2034538.html">spoke with <em>The Huffington Post</em></a> and said she didn't want her being transgender to overshadow her work. Lane started her career focusing on community affairs, reporting for PBS gay-issues news show "Colorado Outspoken" and for <em>Logo</em>.