On the tail end of Transgender Awareness Week, there has been some saddening news about Melissa McCarthy's use of transgender slurs in the show Mike and Molly, one of CBS's many shows that exploit transphobic humor for a cheap laugh.
Instead of reinforcing McCarthy's inexcusable behavior with more discussion and coverage, we would like to honor the awesome, out trans* stars working to make this world more trans*-inclusive.
As the son of Sonny and Cher, Chaz was destined to be famous. And as a champion of LGBT rights, Chaz has used this fame to give voice to trans* issues. He has been honored by GLAAD, written for The Advocate, and represented on Dancing Eith the Stars. He has also written three books, one of which (simply titled Transition) details his transition from female to male. To top it all off, the documentary of his transition, Becoming Chaz, received a standing ovation at Sundance. You go, Chaz.
Kylan has the great honor to be the first out trans woman in a Miss California USA competition. She represented Century City, and although she did not win, she may have worked the hardest to get to the competition, by moving her gender-reassignment surgery up by 6 months and quitting her job in order to train for the pageant.
Jenna made headlines when her participation in the Miss Universe pageant caused Donald Trump to reverse the pageant's trans-exclusive participation policy. She finished in the Top 12, as well as tying with three other contestants for Miss Congeniality. She has since led the Vancouver Pride Parade and petitioned the World Health Organization to remove "transsexualism" from their list of mental health disorders. With her take-charge attitude, who knows what cause this girl will champion next.
As the son of Warren Beatty and Annette Bening, Stephen Ira may be the most well-connected person in Hollywood. He is now using these connections to speak out as a transgender man about trans* rights. At just 21-years-old, he represents trans* health rights in a new public service announcement about the lack of healthcare options for trans* people. Stephen may be a new activist, but he is definitely one to watch in the future.
Image: Stephen Ira/Twitter
The Internet has been a-buzzing about Laverne lately, from her portrayal of a transgender woman in Orange Is the New Black to her keynote address at the 2014 Creating Change conference. But Laverne has not stopped at being the first trans* woman of color on a popular scripted television show. Her Twitter is constant stream of support to other trans* activists, often including the fabulous hashtag #girlslikeus. She also produced and starred in TRANSForm Me on VH1, a reality show where she proved she can give almost anyone a makeover.