Trans Day of Visibility is March 31st and we want to recognize some of the trailblazing transwomen that are taking the world by storm. From philanthropy to the entertainment industry, trans women have been making their names known and letting everyone know they aren’t going anywhere. Read on for 13 inspiring trans women that continue to leave their mark on the world.
1. Michaela Antonia Jaé Rodriguez
Award-winning entertainer and businesswoman Michaela Antonia Jaé Rodriguez (formerly MJ Rodriguez) is a serious talent to watch! Rodriguez has been in the entertainment business since 2011, when she starred as Angel Dumont Schunard in the original off-Broadway revival of Rent. Rodriguez starred in the FX hit television series Pose (2018-2021) as Blanca Rodriguez, earning an Emmy nomination and a Golden Globe win!
Michaela Antonia Jaé Rodriguez is the first transwoman to receive an Emmy nomination in a lead role and the first transperson to win a Golden Globe award. Rodriguez is also the first Latina transwoman to earn a partnership with Olay. In 2019, Rodriguez became the first openly transgender woman to win Best Actress in Television at the Imagen Awards.
2. Laverne Cox
She won our attention (and our hearts) as Sophia Burset in Orange is the New Black. She is none other than the amazing and compassionate Laverne Cox. Cox is a entertainment beast in-front of the camera and behind the scenes. In 2010, Cox became the first transgender person to produce and star in her own show TRANSform Me, but her accomplishments don’t stop there! In 2014, Laverne Cox became the first transgender person to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for her role as Sophia Burset. Cox also won a Daytime Emmy as an Executive Producer for The T Word. If that doesn’t amaze you, Laverne Cox is also the first transgender person to be on the cover of Time magazine AND have a wax sculpture in Madame Tussauds! Looking for more Laverne on your screens? She recently starred in Inventing Anna, a Netflix drama about the case of Anna Delvey, an Insta-famous heiress aka scammer.
3. Angelica Ross
Known for her role as Candy in Pose, Angelica Ross is a force to be reckoned with! The Pose star is a fierce businesswoman as much as she is an actress. Ross is self-taught computer programmer, and her hard work has surely paid off! In 2018, Angelica Ross founded TransTech Social Enterprises, a firm that employs transgender and gender nonconforming people in the tech industry. In 2019, Ross became the first openly transgender person to host the 2020 Presidential Candidate Forum on LGBTQ issues.
4. Leyna Bloom
Leyna Bloom made waves on social media in 2018 when she launched a viral campaign to be casted as the first openly trans woman to walk in the Victoria Secret Fashion Show. Later that year, Bloom was casted as one of the faces for the H&M x Moschino by Jeremy Scott Fall/Winter 2018 international campaign. In 2019, Bloom was the only trans woman of color to walk the Paris Fashion Week Fall/Winter at the 2019 Tommy Hilfiger x Zendaya fashion show. Bloom also starred in the 2019 American-French drama, Port Authority. In 2021, Bloom became the first openly transgender Black and Asian-American Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue model.
5. Zaya Wade
Zaya Wade is always a hot topic when talking about the trans community. At 12 years old, Zaya Wade confidently came out as a young trans woman to her parents. In 2019, Zaya Wade’s father, Dwayne Wade, began publicly referring to her by she/her pronouns, indicating Wade’s transition. In 2020, with the help of her stepmom Gabrielle Union, Zaya Wade publicly came out as trans. Although Zaya Wade has faced many comments regarding her transition, she has never stopped unapologetically being herself.
6. Dominique Jackson
Dominique Jackson is another talented Pose actress whose moving performance and witty clapbacks as the fiery Elektra Abundance has won the hearts of many Pose fans. In 2013, Jackson released her book Transsexual from Tobago, an autobiography that shines a light on her mental health and growing up in Trinidad and Tobago. Jackson has also modeled for big name brands such as Vogue España and walked in the 2021 Mugler fashion show.
7. Isis King
If you’ve watched America’s Next Top Model, you might be familiar with cycle 11 and cycle 17: All-Stars contestant Isis King. In fact, King was the first trans woman to compete in the show! In 2012, Isis King became the first openly transgender model for American Apparel. King has appeared in Us Weekly, Out, and Seventeen magazine. King has also starred in shows like Shameless and The Bold and the Beautiful. In the 2019 Netflix miniseries When They See Us, Isis King played Korey Wise’s older sister Marci.
8. Janet Mock
You’ve got to be living under a rock if you’re unfamiliar with Janet Mock! Media maven, Janet Mock has worked and written for big name magazines like People magazine, Marie Claire, Elle, and Huffington Post. In February of 2014, Mock published her memoir Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love, and So Much More. Mock’s memoir became the first book written by a trans person who transitioned at a young age. Mock’s memoir made The New York Times bestseller list. Mock became the first trans woman of color hired as a writer for her work on Pose. In 2019, Mock became the first openly trans woman of color to secure a TV and film deal with Netflix.
9. Ts Madison
Ts Madison is our girl through and through (props if you remember her Vine days). She always brings laughter and words of love and encouragement. Madison had two web series with World of Wonder (WOW) called Wait a Minute and Lemme Pick You Up, a series where Madison interviews and drives celebrity guests around Los Angeles. Madison also has a popular podcast called Queens Supreme Court (formerly Queens Court). In the 2020 film Zola, Madison played Hollywood, an exotic dancer.
If you’re a fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race, you are familiar with the “Lip Sync Assassin” aka the zealous Peppermint. Peppermint was the first openly transgender woman to compete on the ninth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. In 2018, Peppermint became Broadway’s first openly trans woman to originate a lead role in the musical comedy Head Over Heels. Peppermint has been featured on shows like CSI: NY, America’s Next Top Model, Ugly Betty, and Pose. Aside from acting, Peppermint is also a singer with two albums, four EPs, and 13 singles under her belt.
11. Amiyah Scott
The girls were not ready for Amiyah Scott to take over social media in the early 2010s! Scott became an internet sensation when videos of her performing and her before-and-after pics of her transition hit the internet. In 2015, Scott became the first trans woman to be cast in the Real Housewives franchise. In 2019, Amiyah Scott published her first memoir called Memoirs of a Mermaid. Scott also played the role of Cotton, the transgender daughter of Carlotta (played by Queen Latifah), in the Fox hit TV series Star.
12. Aaron Rose Philip
Aaron Rose Philip has been in the eyes of social media since she was 12. Philip became popular for her Tumblr blog Aaronverse, which gained the attention of former Tumblr CEO David Karp. At 14, Philip published a memoir called This Kid Can Fly: It’s About Ability (Not Disability), detailing about her experiences with growing up with cerebral palsy. Throughout the years, Aaron Rose Philip has advocated for the inclusion and representation of trans and disabled POC (people of color) in media. Philip has had editorial features in Dazed, Elle, Refinery29, Allure, Vogue, and Paper. Philip was also featured in campaigns for Dove, Sephora, and Nike.
In 2020, designer Jeremy Scott made Aaron Rose Philip the face of the Moschino Fall/Winter 2020 campaign. In 2021, Philip exclusively debuted for Moschino’s Spring/Summer 2022 runway show at New York Fashion Week. As a result, Philip became the first model to use a wheelchair in a runway show for a major luxury fashion brand.
13. Jari Jones
The beautiful and talented Jari Jones is a class act you need to keep your eyes on. In 2019, Jones became the first Black trans woman producer for her work on the American-French drama Port Authority, starring Leyna Bloom. Jari Jones was one of the nine faces in the Calvin Klein 2020 pride campaign. In addition to acting, Jones has modeled for companies like Dove and Elizabeth Suzann and written articles about LGBTQ and POC representation for Nylon, The New York Times, Allure, and Out.
On this Trans Day of Visibility, take the time to educate yourself on the importance of trans history, trans rights, and the lives of transwomen. It’s also important to include trans people in your dialogues about society, politics, and everything in-between. Their representation and protection matters too.