Before she became a supporter of Jenner, the transgender icon was already an established actress and activist
Though her name may be new to some, Cayne has been a prominent member of the trans community and is a successful actress who has worked in TV (Dirty Sexy Money, Nip/Tuck) and film (Too Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar).
Here are five things to know about Candis Cayne.
1. She has a fraternal twin brother, but the two pursued very different paths growing up.
Cayne was born Brendan McDaniel, and her twin brother is named Dylan. They grew up attending a Maui Waldorf school at which their parents taught. “I was doing the artistic things, and he was into sports,” Cayne told PEOPLE. “Ever since we were babies, we were completely opposite. He did football, basketball and soccer. He was into music like guitar. He was definitely a jock, and I was taking dance class.”
2. Her entire life, she knew she had an inner femininity.
Even when I was a little kid, people would come up to me and ask, ‘Are you a boy or a girl?’ because my femininity comes from within,” she said. “It’s not something that was learned.”
[BRIGHTCOVE “20927612” “people now” “” “no” ]
3. She loves her name now but had second thoughts before making it official.
“When I made my decision to finally change my name legally, I was like, ‘Is this the name I want?’ I’ve read a couple of blogs with people saying it’s a stripper name,” Cayne said. “Now if I were to do it over again, I would have chosen differently. I probably would have had my parents pick out a name for me – something cool like that.”
4. She was the first trans actress to play a trans character in a recurring role on American primetime TV.
Starting in 2007, Cayne played Carmelita Rainer, a transgender woman having an affair with William Baldwin‘s character on the ABC series Dirty Sexy Money. Cayne explained that she was well-prepared for the part: “I already did 10 years of research on this subject. I don’t feel pressure from the community because I know what I’m talking about. I know I won’t do something that’s inaccurate. I’ll do stuff that I don’t really agree with,” she said.
In fact, prior to Money, Cayne had to revise a part she played on CSI: NY. “The producers had some false things written down, stuff that I didn’t agree with. I talked to the writer and producer and director, and they helped me change this part to where it was more accurate,” Cayne recalled. “People don’t know, and, if you can talk to them, you can educate people.”
5. After her epiphany that she wanted to transition, finally being called "ma’am" years later was a personal triumph.
“A year or two into it, I went on a trip to Europe. It was nerve-racking,” she recalled. “I went to the airport and everybody called me ‘ma’am’ and ‘her’ and ‘miss’ and ‘she.’ It was the most liberating moment.” Cayne said she thinks of herself as living proof of that the transition process can be a beautiful one. “Going through my transition completely unscathed can only show people – straight people, gay people, parents – that there are such things as healthy positive transgender people out there.”