A list of transgenders who have made their mark and achieved fame in the entertainment industry after enduring hardship and struggles.
Lea T is a Brazilian-born, Italian-raised transgender fashion model.
Often cited as the first transgender supermodel, Lea was discovered by Givenchy designer Riccardo Tisci in 2010 and became his muse. She's since appeared in magazines and on runways around the world, as well as in the Italian version of Dancing With the Stars in 2013. In November 2014, she was named the face of Redken.
She was recently named one of Forbes' "12 Women Who Have Changed Italian Fashion
She is also a pop culture icon of transgender advocacy in the LGBT community. She has stated that discrimination against LGBT people is an ongoing issue, and that society has more to do before it is resolved.
Isis King is an American Fashion Model, Actress, and Fashion Designer. She was a contestant on both the eleventh cycle and the seventeenth cycle of the reality television show America's Next Top Model. She was the first transwoman to compete on the show, and became one of the most visible transgender people on television.
King was discovered by Tyra Banks on America's Next Top Model when she posed in the background for another season's contestants. Banks brought her back as her own contestant on a future season where she broke barriers as the first transgender model on the show. She has since been featured in Seventeen, Out and Candy magazine's 2014 issue, alongside 13 other transgender women.
Janet Mock is an American writer, TV host, transgender rights activist, author of the New York Times bestseller Redefining Realness, contributing editor for Marie Claire, and former staff editor of People magazine's website.
In 2012, Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, signed Mock to her first book deal for a memoir about her teenage years, which was released as Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More in February 2014. It is the first book written by a trans person who transitioned as a young person. Redefining Realness made the New York Times bestseller list for hardcover nonfiction, and contains her personal memories often alongside statistics or social theory. Feminist critic bell hooks referred to Janet's memoir as, "Courageous! This book is a life map for transformation" while Melissa Harris-Perry said, "Janet does what only great writers of autobiography accomplish—she tells a story of the self, which turns out to be a reflection of all humanity."
Shortly after signing her book deal, she left her position as an editor at People.com where she had worked for more than five years. Janet went on to host Take Part Live and her own culture show, So POPular!, on MSNBC's Shift.
While taping So POPular!, she continued to work with MSNBC as a guest host for the Melissa Harris-Perry show, host of the Global Citizen Festival, and covered the White House Correspondence Dinner's red carpet for Shift. She's also a special correspondent for Entertainment Tonight.
In April 2015, Oprah Winfrey invited Janet to be a guest on Super Soul Sunday for a segment titled, “Becoming Your Most Authentic Self” where she discussed "proudly and unapologetically" claiming her identities. In September 2015, Janet was invited back to join Winfrey's Super Soul Sessions where Mock discussed, "Embracing The Otherness."
In addition to Super Soul Sunday, Mock has appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher, Melissa Harris-Perry, The Colbert Report, and The Nightly Show. She is featured in an LGBT documentary, The OUT List, which screened on HBO on June 27, 2013. She is also featured in a 2011 documentary called Dressed.
In 2012, she started a Twitter hashtag to empower transgender women, called #GirlsLikeUs, which received attention from several queer-media sites.
Carmen Roman better known by her stage name Carmen Carrera is an American reality television personality, model, burlesque performer, and actress, known for appearing on the third season of the Logo reality television series RuPaul's Drag Race, as well as its spin-off series RuPaul's Drag U. Although she presented as male during the third season of RuPaul's Drag Race, on May 1, 2012, ABC News reported that Carrera is a transgender woman.
Carrera was featured in the work of photographer David LaChapelle. She posed for a poster for Life Ball, depicted with both male and female genitalia to represent the blurring of gender identity.
She has appeared in high-profile shoots including a spread in W shot by Steven Meisel. In 2015, she played a hairstylist in Ricki and the Flash, a movie starring Meryl Streep. She has acted in television series including The Bold and the Beautiful and Jane the Virgin. She publicly revealed that she identified as a woman on a 2009 episode of the reality show What Would You Do? and has begun making the transition from male to female.
Ines Rau is a 25 year-old transgender model who was born in Paris and is of French-North African decent. She began modeling in Paris and she is best known for her steamy photoshoot for France's OOB Magazine with male supermodel Tyson Beckford.
Represented by Marilyn Agency, Rau posed for a major editorial spread in Playboy in 2014. She was also featured in Alexis Bittar Jewelry's spring 2014 campaign. The New Yorker is currently writing a book about her transition, in between photoshoots.
Laverne Cox is an American actress, reality television star, television producer, and LGBT advocate.She became known for her portrayal of Sophia Burset on the Netflix television series Orange Is the New Black, for which she became the first openly transgender person to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award in the acting category, and the first to be nominated for an Emmy Award since composer/musician Angela Morley in 1990. In 2015, she became the first openly transgender person to have a wax figure of herself at Madame Tussauds. In 2017, she became the first transgender person to play a transgender series regular on broadcast TV as Cameron Wirth on Doubt on CBS.
Cox is also known for appearing as a contestant on the first season of VH1's I Want to Work for Diddy, and for producing and co-hosting the VH1 makeover television series TRANSform Me. In April 2014, Cox was honored by GLAAD with its Stephen F. Kolzak Award for her work as an advocate for the transgender community.On June 9, 2014, Cox became the first openly transgender person to appear on the cover of Time magazine.
Andreja Pejić is an Australian model. Before completing her transition into womanhood in late 2013, Pejić was known as the first completely androgynous supermodel. Today, she is one of the most recognisable transgender models in the world.
Before completing her transition, Pejic (who at the time was known as Andrej) had a successful modeling career, capitalizing on an androgynous look. Since completing gender confirmation surgery in January 2014, Pejic returned to the runway in Giles's fall 2015 show and made history as the first transgender model to have a profile in Vogue. She was named the face of Make Up For Ever in June. It was also just announced that she'll be appearing in a documentary about her journey.
Today, she advocates for trans rights and says she is finally comfortable in her own body. "I always dreamt of being a girl," she said. "One of my earliest memories is spinning around in my mom's skirt trying to look like a ballerina."
Pejic has graced the covers of international editions of Elle, L'Officiel, Fashion and GQ. Andreja has also appeared in editorials for fashion publications including, Vogue, Elle, I-D, Dazed and Confused, Love, Allure, Purple and Numero
After a nearly decade-long career modeling for companies like Rimmel London and Hanes, she gave a crazy-inspiring TED talk in March 2014 that's since been viewed more than 2.6 million times. (She's also spoken at the White House and at the UN.) Rocero is also the founder of Gender Proud, a nonprofit that does advocacy work for the transgender community.
Rocero was discovered by a fashion photographer in a restaurant on the Lower East Side of Manhattan when she was 21 years old. She was then signed to top agency NEXT Model Management and spent 12 years modeling for international swimsuit and beauty editorials, earning herself a large fan base.
In 2016 Rocero and Tracey Norman became the first two openly transgender models to appear on the cover of an edition of Harper’s Bazaar.
Hari Nef is an American actress, model, and writer based in New York City. Nef made her runway debut at New York Fashion Week Spring 2015, walking for both Hood By Air and Eckhaus Latta. Nef is a transgender woman and is known for speaking about important trans issues.
Her writing has appeared in Dazed, Vice, Original Plumbing, and BlackBook. She has also written a regular sex advice/experience column at Adult magazine.
In 2014, Nef was on the cover of Frische Magazine, issue No.6-FW14. That same year, she was placed at number 68 on Dazed's 100 list. Nef also moved to the top of the Dazed Readers 100, ranking #1 overall, and appeared in the i-D Pre-Fall Issue twice.
In 2015, she again walked shows during New York Fashion Week. In May 2015, Nef was signed to IMG Models, making her the first openly transgender model signed to them.
In the summer of 2015, Nef was cast in the second season of Amazon Prime's Transparent, which debuted in December 2015. She also starred in The Drums' music video "There is Nothing Left" in August.
In 2015, The Forward newspaper included her in the Forward 50, a list of the year's fifty most influential Jewish-Americans.
Elle printed special collectors’ covers for their September 2016 issue, and one of them featured Nef, which was the first time an openly transgender woman had been on the cover of a major commercial British magazine.
In January 2017, Nef starred in a television commercial for the L'Oréal Paris True Match line alongside Blake Lively, Lara Stone and Xiao Wen Ju. The campaign was premiered at the 2017 Golden Globe Awards telecast.
Balian Buschbaum is a former German pole vaulter. On 21 November 2007 Buschbaum announced his retirement from the sport due to a persistent injury and the desire to begin gender reassignment. In January 2008, Buschbaum announced that his new first name was "Balian", after the blacksmith in the movie Kingdom of Heaven, and that he would undergo gender reassignment surgery later that year.
Jenna Talackova is a Canadian model and television personality, who gained media attention in 2012 when she successfully waged a legal battle to be allowed to compete in the Miss Universe Canada after being initially disqualified for being transgender.
After previously competing in the 2010 Miss International Queen pageant for transgender and transsexual women in Thailand, Talackova registered to compete in Miss Universe Canada 2012. After she was selected as one of the Top 65 applicants who would proceed to the pageant, a person who recognized her from Miss International Queen contacted the Miss Universe Canada organizers, and the organization then disqualified Talackova because she was born male on the grounds that the pageant rules required its competitors to be "naturally born" women.
Talackova subsequently contacted lawyer Gloria Allred, who took on the case and challenged the pageant organizers, including Donald Trump in his capacity as owner of the international Miss Universe organization, to reverse the decision and allow Talackova to compete. The organization reversed its decision before the case reached the courts, with Trump's office issuing a statement that "[a]s long as she meets the standards of legal gender recognition requirements of Canada, which we understand that she does, Jenna Talackova is free to compete in the 2012 Miss Universe Canada pageant."
At the pageant on May 19, 2012, Talackova made it into the Top 12, but failed to reach the Top 5. She was, however, one of four contestants awarded the title of Miss Congeniality.
She is an advocate for transgender rights and has a reality show on E! Network based on her life, "Brave New Girls."
Lee Kyung-eun better known by her stage name Harisu is a Korean pop singer, model, and actress. Assigned male at birth, Harisu identified as female from early childhood, and underwent sex reassignment surgery in the 1990s. She is the Republic of Korea's first transgender entertainer, and in 2002 became only the second person in Korea to legally change their gender. Her stage name is an adaptation of the English phrase "hot issue".
Harisu first gained public attention in 2001, after appearing in a television commercial for DoDo cosmetics. The commercial was a success and ended up launching her career, allowing her to branch out into other fields such as music and acting. So far she has recorded five Korean musical albums and her overseas releases have featured songs recorded in Mandarin. Her first major acting role was in the 2001 film Yellow Hair 2, and since then her credits have included Hi! Honey, a Taiwanese drama series, and Colour Blossoms, an erotic drama by Hong Kong filmmaker Yonfan.
Jamie Clayton is an American actress and model. She starred in the Netflix series Sense8.
In 2010, Clayton was the makeup artist and co-host on VH1's first makeover show TRANSform Me.The following year, she played the recurring role of Kyla in the third season of the HBO series Hung. In 2012, Clayton played the lead role of Michelle Darnell on the Emmy Award winning interactive web series Dirty Work and the role of Carla Favers on the TV series Are We There Yet? She also narrated the audiobook for the young adult novel George about a young trans girl.
Clayton starred as one of the eight main characters in the Netflix original television series Sense8 that premiered on June 5, 2015. In Sense8 she played Nomi Marks, a San Francisco transgender female political blogger and hacker.
Clayton appears in the 2016 film The Neon Demon.
Valentijn de Hingh is a transgender Dutch Model. From the age of 8 until the age of 17 de Hingh was filmed for the Dutch television program "Valentijn" and had gender confirmation surgery shortly after the conclusion of that project. She was a contestant on Expeditie Robinson 2013 that year's installment and the eighth edition of the Dutch version of the American reality television program Survivor.
De Hingh became a runway model in 2008 and has since done so for Comme des Garçons and Maison Martin Margiela and other fashion houses. She has been the photographed by Patrick Demarchelier. De Hingh is the first transgender person ever to have been represented by IMG Models, which has since added at least one other transgender model to its roster. In 2012 de Hingh won the Elle Personal Style Award.
Peche Di is a transgender model, dancer, actress, videographer, and modeling agent. She started the first transgender modeling agency in the U.S., in New York City.
Di was born in Bangkok, Thailand. When she was born, the doctor identified her as a male, but by the age of 15, Di began to identify herself as a female, and started wearing dresses, wigs, and began taking estrogen. After winning several pageants, entered America’s Next Top Model competition in New York City but didn’t win.
In 2014, Di was featured on the fifth anniversary cover of C☆NDY magazine along with 13 other transgender women.
Di founded Trans Models NYC, a modeling agency focusing on transgender representation in modeling, in May 2015.
This 20-year-old Brazilian model made fashion history as the first transgender model on the cover of any edition of Vogue.
The last year of Valentina Sampaio’s life has been something of a whirlwind. She went from doing local shows and photo shoots near her hometown, to walking in São Paulo Fashion Week, to posing for covers of national magazines like Elle Brasil and L’Officiel Brasil.
Then the 20-year-old from northeastern Brazil made fashion history as the first out transgender model on the cover of any edition of Vogue, appearing on the front of the flagship Vogue Paris’s March issue.
Her accomplishment comes despite recent setbacks for the LGBT community in Brazil — including a spike in hate crimes and killings of LGBT people. Though the reality for most trans women in Brazil differs sharply from Sampaio’s, her ascent to fashion’s most coveted spot is seen both as a milestone and the mark of a new normal for transgender people in her industry.
Caitlyn Marie Jenner, formerly known as Bruce Jenner, is an American television personality and retired Olympic gold medal-winning decathlete. With that stature, Jenner subsequently established a career in television, film, writing, auto racing, business and as a Playgirl cover model.
Since 2007, Jenner has appeared on the reality television series Keeping Up with the Kardashians with Kris, their daughters Kendall and Kylie Jenner, and step-children Kourtney, Kim, Khloé, and Rob Kardashian. Previously identifying publicly as male, Jenner revealed her identity as a trans woman in April 2015, publicly announcing her name change from Bruce to Caitlyn in a July 2015 Vanity Fair cover story. Her name and gender change became official on September 25, 2015. She has been called the most famous openly transgender woman in the world. From 2015 to 2016, Jenner starred in the reality television series I Am Cait, which focused on her gender transition.
In a 20/20 interview with Diane Sawyer in April 2015, Jenner came out as a trans woman, saying that she had dealt with gender dysphoria since her youth and that, "for all intents and purposes, I'm a woman." Jenner cross-dressed for many years and took hormone replacement therapy but stopped after her romance with Kris Kardashian became more serious, leading to marriage in 1992.
Jenner recounts having permission to explore her gender identity on her own travels but not when they were coupled, and that not knowing the best way to talk about the many issues contributed to the deterioration of the 23-year-long marriage, which ended formally in 2015.
Jenner has undergone cosmetic surgery, and completed sex reassignment surgery in January 2017. She said she has never been sexually attracted to men, but has instead always been sexually attracted to women, and that, keeping in mind the difficulty people have understanding the difference between sexual orientation and gender identity, she will identify as asexual for now.