It’s that time of year when Christmas lights are strung in the city and people are rushing out to buy their holiday groceries. We always remember the big holidays, like Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years, but there are other days of remembrance that we should always keep in mind.
November 20th marks Transgender Day of Remembrance. True to its name, this annual observance honors those who lost their lives because of anti-transgender violence. It was originally started in 1999 by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith after a vigil was held for a victim of anti-transgender violence. 2017 still had its ups and downs, but I’m happy to see that more and more hands are coming together to push for transgender equality. Some people in particular have been a great help towards giving the LGBTQ community a voice and vision.
Here are 10 transgender activists that influencing the way America sees the transgender community.
When you think of an influential transgender activist, Laverne Cox might be somewhere on the top of the list. Cox was the first trans person to appear on the front cover of Time magazine back in 2014. The article pertaining to Cox was titled “The Transgender Tipping Point” and was published during one of the most trying times for transgender women.
Not only does she work as a writer and TV host, Janet Mock is an influential transgender rights activist. She’s acted as a powerful voice for the transgender community, largely in part because of her work as the former editor for People. She came out as transgender back in 2011 during a Marie Claire interview, and has been an active advocate ever since. Mock received a number of awards for her service for the community, including the Sylvia Rivera Activist Award, the GLSEN Inspiration Award, and a Stonewall Book Award for her book Redefining Realness.
Renee RichardsNY Daily News
Back in the 1970s, Renee Richards owned the tennis court. She underwent gender reassignment surgery in 1975, but was later denied entry into the 1976 US Open. Richards was identified as one of the first professional athletes to speak out on transsexual rights, and went on to become a powerful voice for the transgender community.
Richards wasn’t the only athlete to identify as transgender. Whereas Richards played tennis, Kye Allums was the first transgender athlete to play for George Washington University. She is also a strong advocate for the transgender community and pushed for a number of campaigns, including Project I am Enough and #WeAllNeedToPee. The latter campaign hopes to renounce the Restroom Bill aimed at the transgender community.
You won’t find Gigi Gorgeous on the front cover of Time (yet), but you might have seen her while browsing your YouTube feed. She’s a popular YouTuber that focuses on beauty, fashion and topics pertaining to the trans community. Her early videos showed her gradual transition while urging viewers to stay true to themselves. She currently has over 2 million subscribers on YouTube and Instagram.
Carmen Carrera is a famous model, actress and performer known for her appearances on RuPaul’s Drag Race and its spin-off RuPaul’s Drag U. Since transitioning and building her name, Carrera has been a strong supporter of the LGBTQ community. Her positive influence resulted in a petition requesting her to model for the 2013 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, however the petition was unsuccessful.
Chaz Bono is an American musician and proud transgender activist. Bono underwent female-to-male gender reassignment in 2008 after coming out as lesbian a few years prior. Since then, he went on to write Family Outing: A Guide to the Coming Out Process for Gays, Lesbians, and Their Families, which retells his own story of coming out to his family and friends.
You might not have heard of Diego Miguel Sanchez, but he’s not one to overlook. Sanchez became the first openly transgender person to work at Capitol Hill as an official legislative staff member. He also acts as a policy advisor to Congressman Barney Frank. He also testified before Congress during the 2008 Transgender Discrimination Hearing.
Angelica Ross is an American actress, businesswoman and transgender rights advocate. Apart from appearing on the web series Her Story, Ross is the proud founder and CEO of TransTech Social Enterprises. Her company aims to support and employ those from the transgender community.
Caitlyn was a hot topic for debate back when she first came out as a trans woman in 2015. In a 20/20 interview, Jenner revealed that she had to deal with gender dysphoria throughout her youth. She used to take hormone replacement therapy, but eventually stopped after getting involved with Kris Kardashian. After divorcing in 2015, Jenner completed a gender reassignment surgery in early 2017. Her transition brought on mixed emotions from the media, ranging from support to mockery, however it did cause a rippling effect in the LGBTQ community.