Stars Open Up About Their Trans Experiences, in Their Own Words
Elliot Page, Laverne Cox, Josie Totah and more actors and influencers share important reflections and lessons from their experience as transgender people
Elliot Page on Coming Out and Using His Voice to Fight for Other Trans People
"Hi friends, I want to share with you that I am trans, my pronouns are he/they and my name is Elliot. I feel lucky to be writing this. To be here. To have arrived at this place in my life.
"I feel overwhelming gratitude for the incredible people who have supported me along this journey. I can’t begin to express how remarkable it feels to finally love who I am enough to pursue my authentic self. I’ve been endlessly inspired by so many in the trans community. Thank you for your courage, your generosity and ceaselessly working to make this world a more inclusive and compassionate place. I will offer whatever support I can and continue to strive for a more loving and equal society.
"I also ask for patience. My joy is real, but it is also fragile. The truth is, despite feeling profoundly happy right now and knowing how much privilege I carry, I am also scared. I’m scared of the invasiveness, the hate, the ‘jokes’ and of violence. To be clear, I am not trying to dampen a moment that is joyous and one that I celebrate, but I want to address the full picture. The statistics are staggering. The discrimination towards trans people is rife, insidious and cruel, resulting in horrific consequences. In 2020 alone it has been reported that at least 40 transgender people have been murdered, the majority of which were Black and Latinx trans women. To the political leaders who work to criminalize trans health care and deny our right to exist and to all of those with a massive platform who continue to spew hostility towards the trans community: you have blood on your hands. You unleash a fury of vile and demeaning rage that lands on the shoulders of the trans community, a community in which 40% of trans adults report attempting suicide. I am one of those people and we won’t be silent in the face of your attacks.
"I love that I am trans. And I love that I am queer. And the more I hold myself close and fully embrace who I am, the more I dream, the more my heart grows and the more I thrive. To all trans people who deal with harassment, self-loathing, abuse and the threat of violence every day: I see you, I love you and I will do everything I can to change this world for the better."
— on Twitter in December 2020
Laverne Cox on Repeating Affirmations
"There's a bit of cynicism that I, too, have had about doing affirmations, but it's really a wonderful thing. Sometimes you say it until you believe it. I can't say I haven't looked in the mirror and said, '‘Work, bitch.’
“I think it's important to be able to be like, ‘Yes, your shoulders are broad, yes your hands are big and your voice is deep and you're really tall and people notice you, and that makes you noticeably trans, but that doesn't make you any less beautiful. You're not beautiful despite those things, you're beautiful because of those things, and [believing] that has to be an active conscious process.
“Loving myself is a practice. It is something that I must cultivate and it is something that I must consciously do or it will go away.”
— to SELF in 2018
Josie Totah on Feeling 'Seen'
"[W]hen my friends and family call me Josie, it feels like I’m being seen. It’s something everyone wants, to feel understood. And, as a semi-religious person who went to Catholic school, I have come to believe that God made me transgender. I don’t feel like I was put in the wrong body. I don’t feel like there was a mistake made. I believe that I am transgender to help people understand differences. It allows me to gain perspective, to be more accepting of others, because I know what it feels like to know you’re not like everyone else."
— to TIME in 2018
MJ Rodriguez on Realizing Her Identity While Starring in Rent
“There was a physical identity of what people perceived as ‘boy,’ but that’s not how I was feeling inside. The people that I worked with, they saw that when I got onstage and actually got to live in the clothing that I wanted to be in.”
— to Cosmopolitan in 2019
Caitlyn Jenner on Needing to Be Herself
"I’m not [transitioning] to be interesting. I’m doing this to live ... If I was lying on my deathbed and I had kept this secret and never ever did anything about it, I would be lying there saying, ‘You just blew your entire life,’ ‘You never dealt with yourself,’ and I don’t want that to happen.”
Hunter Schafer on Her Trans Identity Only Being a 'Fraction' of Her Life
“Even right now, I have to filter what I say, because more often than not I’ve found that when I say the T-word, whatever sentence that is becomes a headliner. Not only do I think that’s so boring and so predictable, it’s, like, such a fraction [of my life]. It feels sensational. It feels like it’s prone to getting sensationalized. I also understand the need for dialogue on it.”
— to Allure in 2020
Janet Mock on Taking Control of the Narrative
"Part of my public work is talking about my life experiences and what I've gone through. I've been very transparent about my struggles with my body, and with a society that is constantly trying to contain me and label me and define me. I've spent my entire youth and life fighting against that. And so one of the great gifts of writing for television and writing for these characters is [they can say] all the things that I may not have been bold enough to say — say in an interview or at a dinner party when someone finds out that I'm trans, or [when] I bring it up in my work, and they're astounded and they start asking all of these strange, invasive questions ... The things that I've had to do medically to my body don't define me. They're the least interesting things about me. The fact that they're the most sensational things for you, as a non-trans person, as a cis person, I think says a lot about how we've framed trans people as these objects of dissection, of modern-day freak shows in a way."
—to NPR in 2019
Asia Kate Dillon on Being Non-Binary
"Non-binary is a term used by some people, myself included, who experience their gender identity as falling somewhere outside the boxes of man or woman," the actor explained. "Some people use it because they identify as both or neither, or simply are experiencing their gender as being fluid."
— to ABC News in 2019
Jazz Jennings on Her Gender-Affirming Surgery
"Finally undergoing bottom surgery has allowed me to confidently flourish in my new body and dismantle any remaining gender dysphoria. For the first time, my body fully reflected my soul — how I felt on the inside. The surgery didn’t solve all of my issues, but it did offer a sense of peace and comfort that wasn't otherwise there."
— to The New York Times in 2020
Hari Nef on Using Her Job to Spread Awareness
"[As a model], I definitely don't want to tell trans people that they need to buy things in order to fully come into themselves as a trans person. But at the same time, you look at all of the images that are available in fashion and in the greater image industry, and you don't see yourself. You kind of feel like you’re chasing something you can never attain. To see a trans body in this ideal space—on a cover, in an ad—these are spaces that have immense cultural power to dictate what is beautiful, what is glamorous, what is aspirational, what is sexy, what is clean. That can be very powerful and helpful in the de-stigmatization of trans bodies."
—in Teen Vogue in 2016
Quinn on Wanting to Increase Visibility for Trans People
"Coming out is HARD (and kinda bs). I know for me it’s something I’ll be doing over again for the rest of my life. As I’ve lived as an openly trans person with the people I love most for many years, I did always wonder when I’d come out publicly. Instagram is a weird space. I wanted to encapsulate the feelings I had towards my trans identity in one post but that’s really not why anyone is on here, including myself. So INSTEAD I want to be visible to queer folx who don’t see people like them on their feed. I know it saved my life years ago."
—on Instagram in 2020
Trevi Moran on Her Coming Out Journey
"Hi. My name is Trevi Moran. I am a transgender female. It's a good start. I can't believe I just said that out loud. I've dealt with this feeling my entire life, and I know that I'm a woman deep down. It's just a feeling. You know.
"I hit a rock in my journey in 2017 when I thought I wasn’t transgender because I thought that people were pushing me to be transgender. No, I just had a lot of demons back then. A lot of eating disorder stuff, self-confidence issues. It wasn’t the time for me to come out back then. But now I'm here, and I'm transgender."
— on her YouTube channel in 2020
Andreja Pejic on Loving Herself — and Everyone Else Needing to Get on Board
"I think from my teenage years, when I decided I needed to express my femininity, I was happy with the way I looked. But [gender confirmation surgery] is kind of the last part—it’s sort of the icing on the cake. It makes me feel freer than ever. Now I can stand naked in front of a mirror and really enjoy my reflection. And those personal moments are important. ... I would like [people] to understand that we are people. We’re human beings, and this is a human life. This is reality for us, and all we ask for is acceptance and validation for what we say that we are. It’s a basic human right."
—to Vogue in 2014