When it comes to the influencers, babes, and heartthrobs of sports and Hollywood, we tend to rattle off such names as Tom Brady, Harry Styles, or Margot Robbie. While these heavy hitters are talented, we can’t help but wonder, what about the individuals that break not just glass ceilings, but also social and gender constructs? Kiss and Tell magazine is answering that question by illuminating some trans movers and shakers you know and some you may not. Below are 5 of the trans advocates celebrities and influencers we admire.
Sure, you may recognize Laverne Cox from her groundbreaking role as Sophia Burset in Netflix’s, “Orange Is the New Black” (unless you’ve been living under a rock!), but she’s been blazing a trail for the transgender community for decades and shows no signs of slowing down.
This phenom is not only a three-time Emmy-nominated actress, she’s also the first openly transgender actress to ever be nominated for the award. To add to her Emmy success, Laverne took home a win for producing her film “Laverne Cox Presents: The T Word”.
As if Laverne Cox wasn’t impressive enough, she’s also the first openly trans woman to grace the covers of countless magazine covers including Time Magazine and Cosmopolitan Magazine, and many others.
Cox continues to produce, act, and advocate for equality and trans visibility.
Known for roles in hit movies such as “Juno”, “Hard Candy”, “Whip It”, and of course the hit show, “The Umbrella Academy”, Elliot Page continues to stun the masses with their most notable role yet, living their authentic life.
The powerhouse actor captured everyone’s heart with angsty teenage roles before finally having the courage to come out and live their truth, identifying as trans and non-binary.
Elliot wasn’t just brave enough to live authentically, they were also the first trans celeb to come out halfway through the run of an American television show. The star’s transition was even written into the script for Netflix’s, “The Umbrella Academy”.
Today, you can purchase Elliot’s memoir, Pageboy, wherever books are sold. Their memoir allows you to come along for the ride as they take you on their journey of transitioning and newly found peace.
Michaela Jae Rodriguez
You may recognize Michaela Jae Rodriguez, (formerly known as MJ Rodriguez) from her breakout role as Blanca Evangelista from FX’s “Pose”, a show that boasts the most transgender representation in history.
However, Michaela began her career in theater playing the character of Angel in a stage production of “Rent” before making her transition. After transitioning, she secured small roles in shows such as “Nurse Jackie” and “The Carrie Diaries.”
Michaela’s groundbreaking performance in “Pose” cemented her place as an actress to watch in Hollywood. In fact, it was her performance in “Pose” that led to her winning a Golden Globe award for best actress in a television series drama, making her the first Trans actress to win the award in the history of the award show.
Additionally, MJ also has a blossoming music career, television ads, and continues to light up the screen on Apple TV’s, “Loot” and the 2023 film Transformers: Rise of the Beast.
Writer, director, and producer Janet Mock is not only an influential woman in media, she’s also a trans activist who made her transition while still in high school. To pay for her transition, Mock resorted to sex work at the age of 15. Though sex work had its difficulties, she forged a bond with many of her new sisters and eventually had her gender-affirming surgery in Thailand at the age of 18.
In 2004, Mock went on to earn her B. A degree in fashion merchandising in her home state at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Later in 2006, she earned her Master of Arts in Journalism from New York University.
After college, she began working as a writer for People Magazine before coming out publicly as a trans woman in a Marie Claire article. From there, Janet became an advocate for the LGBTQ community leading to a slew of speaking engagements and an appearance in HBO’s “The Out List”. Later in December 2016, she produced the film, “The Trans List”.
She later worked as a director and producer on the FX series, Pose along with a slew of other hits.
Her 2014 memoir, Redefining Realness, and 2017 memoir, and Surpassing Certainty have gone on to become New York Times best sellers.
Prior to his transition, Balian Buschbaum rose to fame as a German vaulting sensation at the age of 18. In 1998 he became the World Junior Champion in the sport of pole vaulting. He later achieved his personal best record of 4.70 meters in 2003.
Little is known about his upbringing or personal life.
After a whirlwind career, Balian announced his retirement from the sport in 2007 due to a nagging injury and his desire to begin his transitioning process.
After his transition, Buschbaum worked as an indoor high jump coach from 2012-2013. Since transitioning, Balian has gone on to become a bestselling author, speaker, and business success coach.
These celebs are just a few of the transgender human beings that have and will continue to change the world. Maybe with this information, you’ll be inspired to seek out information on the countless other trans advocates that are so often overlooked by mainstream media. Do you know of more trans influencers that should have made our trans advocates list? Comment on our Instagram page @kissandtellmag, we’d love to talk about and admire them too!