Champions Star Josie Totah, 17, Shares First Photo Since Coming Out as Transgender
Josie Totah has shared her first Instagram photo since coming out as transgender in August.
In the image, which Totah posted on Friday, she stands on a bridge while casually tucking her hands into the pockets of her black pants.
In a sweet show of support, Disney channel stars Kayla Maisonet, 19, and Jenna Ortega, 15, were quick to applaud Totah’s social media share.
“Wow, you’re really THAT beautiful” wrote Oretga in the comments section, while Maisonet added, “yesss biihh!!”
In a personal essay published by Time on Aug. 20, Totah revealed that she identifies “as female, specifically as a transgender female.”
Opening up about her past, the Disney alum shared that since entering the entertainment industry, “numerous reporters have asked me in interviews how it feels to be a young gay man.”
While Totah said she “knew on some level that I was female” from a young age, “it crystallized about three years ago when I was a 14-year-old watching the show I Am Jazz with my mother.” (At the end of June, TLC star Jazz Jennings, 17, underwent gender confirmation surgery.)
Totah explained, “As I learned more information about hormone replacement therapy, I knew that this was what I had to do. I looked over at her in the middle of the show and said, ‘This is me. I’m transgender. And I need to go through this.’ “
Her mother was immensely supportive, and Totah swiftly met with doctors and was put on a hormone blocker. Now that Totah openly identifies as Josie, she said, “It feels like I’m being seen.”
“I have come to believe that God made me transgender. I don’t feel like I was put in the wrong body,” she wrote. “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.”
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Earlier this year, Totah, who grew up in a small town in Northern California, told PEOPLE that she “stuck out like a sore thumb” during her childhood.
“There wasn’t a lot of diversity in all genres, whether it was race or ethnicity or the LGBTQ community. I definitely stuck out like a sore thumb. I came to the conclusion, I had to at such a young age, if no one was going to be like me than I just have to own it. If I can’t be like everyone else than I might as well just own who I am,” she said.
She added: “I felt like I was kind of forced to because I was so different I just had to stick with it. In a way, that helped me stay true to myself and honor myself. I was literally so different that I could not hide or be shy. At such a young age, I just stuck with that.”