Much progress has been made for equality in 2015, but the controversial issue of transgender rights often takes a back seat to other LGBTQ causes. However, a few key public figures have been working to fight for transgender rights, combat stereotypes, and reclaim their own identities.
The LGBTQ community has made some fantastic strides this year. Per the Supreme Court's landmark ruling, gay marriage is legal in all 50 states, and many activists have worked to fight for gay and lesbian rights and raise visibility of those communities. But there's still a large degree of discrimination and negativity toward the trans community that remains despite the victories that other members of the LGBT acronym have achieved.
Public figures who are fighting for transgender rights are making strides in combating this discrimination. Although many small-minded folks will still struggle to accept and support the transgender community, the tide is turning as the public sees transgender people star in TV shows, model, and embrace who they really are. In celebration of the profound things the trans community has been doing, here are eight figures who are fighting for transgender visibility and equality.
1. Laverne Cox
Cox is an incredibly influential figure as far as bringing recognition to trans rights. She has a plethora of "firsts." She was the first openly transgender person to be nominated for an Emmy in an acting category, the first trans woman of color to have a leading role on a mainstream scripted television show, the first trans woman of color to produce and star in a television show, and the first trans woman of color to appear on an American reality television program.
2. Kye Allums
When he came out in 2011, Allums became the first Division I openly transgender athlete in NCAA history. He advocates for LGBTQ rights through his athletics, art, and public speaking.
3. Jenna Talackova
Talackova is the beauty queen who sued the Miss Universe Canada pageant after the contest discriminated against her for being a trans woman. Ever since then, she has been redefining traditional standards of beauty.
4. Caitlyn Jenner
Jenner shocked fans when she came out as transgender. Her Vanity Fair cover story turned her into an overnight icon for the trans movement.
5. Lana Wachowski
Wachowski is not famous for being a transgender woman. She is famous for her skills as a director, and that, in itself, is progress.
6. Transgender Lawmakers
There are very few openly transgender lawmakers. America has yet to elect its first openly transgender person to Congress, but the first trans congressional staffer got hired in 2014. A few trans politicians such as Stacie Laughton, a New Hampshire state representative; Stu Rasmussen, mayor of Silverton, Oregon; and Michelle Bruce, a former councilwoman for Riverdale, Georgia, faced grueling scrutiny to serve the public.
7. Balian Buschbaum
Another athlete, Buschbaum is a former German Olympic pole vaulter. He and Jenner are similar in that they both are Olympians, and they contest ideas about what trans people can achieve.
8. Marci Bowers
Bowers is a pretty awesome figure because she's a transgender surgeon who also performs gender reassignment surgeries on other members of the LGBTQ community. She's performed the procedure more than 1,500 times and continues to inspire other trans activists.
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