20 Trailblazing Transgender Celebrities

Thanks to high-profile transitions such as Caitlyn Jenner’s, the world is gradually becoming more aware of the experiences of transgender people. But unfortunately, there’s still a long way to go. Violence against trans people is still rife, for example. And according to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, a staggering 41 percent of trans folks in the U.S. will attempt suicide at some point in their lives. Hopefully, then, these 20 boundary-breaking celebrities will ease the paths of those who follow in their footsteps.

20. Candis Cayne

In 2007 Candis Cayne became a pioneer. Yes, as Carmelita on the ABC show Dirty Sexy Money, she became the first trans actress to play a trans character in a recurring role on primetime TV. More recently, Cayne’s been seen on Caitlyn Jenner’s E! reality show I Am Cait and in Grey’s Anatomy. In 2015 she also became a global creative director of the LGBT social networking app MOOVZ.

19. Isis King

Model and designer Isis King has described herself as “born in the wrong body” rather than “transgender.” That same phrase is also the title of the 2007 MSNBC documentary that helped moved her towards the mainstream. And King has been breaking boundaries ever since. She’s become the first trans woman contestant on America’s Next Top Model — a move that both kickstarted her career and made trans people more visible on national TV.

18. Jazz Jennings

Although Jazz Jennings was assigned male at birth, she was adamant that she was a girl from a very young age. Now, she’s grown up to be one of the youngest transgender activists in the world. Jennings even clinched her own reality show, I Am Jazz, on TLC in 2015.

17. Fallon Fox

Fallon Fox is the first transgender MMA fighter in history — an achievement that unfortunately has seen her draw transphobic flack from some quarters. Fellow MMA star Matt Mitrione called her a “disgusting freak” in 2013. Countless other people in and out of the sport have also weighed in on her muscle strength and even her genitalia. But Fox has continued to kick ass and take names like a pro, with a near-flawless fight record under her belt and to her credit.