Last Sunday,March 7th, was International Women’s Day and thousands of women were honored and remembered across the world in an effort to recognize the struggle of making a stride in the human rights issue that is gender equality. However, when talking about women and their achievements, we seem to forget about a small but significant group, that of transgender women. Here’s a list of 5 influential and inspiring transgender women that should be remembered and celebrated.
Lana Wachowski was the first major Hollywood director to come out as transgender. She’s best known for co-writing and directing the award-winning Matrix Trilogy with her brother, Andrew Wachowski. Lana came out in 2012 and received the Human Rights Campaign Award two months later.
“I met a woman that was the first person that’s made me understand that they love me not despite of my difference, but because of it. She’s the first person to see me as a whole being.”
“Invisibility is indivisible from visibility. For the transgender this is not simply a philosophical conundrum. It can be the difference between life and death.”
Janet Mock was born in Hawaii in 1983. After having been a sex worker at age 16, started her career in People magazine and is currently a contributing editor for Marie Claire magazine, a host for the show “So POPular!” and a New York Times best selling author. She first told her story of growing up as a trans girl in 2011 in Marie Claire magazine and is today a transgender rights activist.
“(…) These women’s murders have become the harsh reality that girls like us face. For a trans woman of color, these women’s murders are a constant reminder that who we are falls so outside of the box of what society says is acceptable that our deaths and even our lives don’t matter. We are in fact disposable, and our entire system validates this belief.”
“I was born in what doctors proclaim is a boy’s body. I had no choice in the assignment of my sex at birth… My genital reconstructive surgery did not make me a girl. I was always a girl.”
Kim Coco Iwamoto is a commissioner on the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission, appointed to serve from 2012 to 2016. She was first elected in 2006 and served two terms with the Hawaii Board of Education, which made her, at the time, the highest ranking openly transgender elected official in the United States and first openly transgender official to win statewide office.
Pauline Park was born in Korea, adopted by American parents and is now a transgender activist based in New York City. She is the co-founder of the New York Association for Gender Rights Advocacy (1998), the Queens Pride House (1997), the Out People of Color Political Action Club (2001), the Guillermo Vasquez Independent Democratic Club of Queens and the Iban/Queer Koreans of New York (1997), which was the first statewide transgender advocacy organization in New York. She also named and helped create the Transgender Health Initiative of New York (THINY), which is a community organizing project to ensure that transgender and gender non-conforming people can access health care in a safe, respectful and non-discriminatory manner.
Laverne Cox was born in Alabama and is very well known for having portraying Sophia Burset on the Netflix series Orange is the New Black. Cox stated that she attempted suicide at age 11 for noticing feelings towards a male classmate and having been bullied for several years for not behaving as society considered adequate for a young boy. Having overcome difficult experiences while growing up, she has become the first openly transgender person to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award in the acting category, the first to be nominated for an Emmy Award since 1990 and the first openly transgender person to appear on the cover of Time magazine.