Transgender African-Americans have been active contributors to history, even though they have often been overlooked. Their presence and contributions are not a recent development, but can be traced back through the centuries. Here are 4 women who have been brave enough to allow the world to see them for who they really are, and pave the way for other transgender women.
1. Janet Mock
Janet Mock was born Charles Mock on March 10, 1983. After her transition she changed her name to Janet Mock. A name she choice after Janet Jackson. Mock is an American writer, transgender rights activist, author and the former staff editor of People magazine‘s website. Mock is paving ways for new transgender women.
2. Laverne Cox
Laverne Cox is making waves as Black actress, reality television star, producer, and advocate for the LGBT community. She is best known for her character in Orange is The New Black, Sophia Burset, which is aired on Netflix. She has been the first openly transgender person to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award in acting. She has a twin brother who plays her in Orange is the New Black before her transition. Cox is also the first transgender African-American to produce her own television show.
3. Isis King
Isis King was born October 1, 1985. She is an American fashion model and a fashion designer. She was the first transgender contestant, appearing on the 11th and 17th cycle of the reality show America’s Next Top Model. She has stated that people might refer to her as “transgender” or “transsexual“, but she prefers the phrase “born in the wrong body. Since King’s appearances on America’s Next Top Model she has worked with American Apparel making her the first transgender person to do so.
4. Tona Brown
Tona Brown is the first transgender violinist and singer African-American woman to play at Carnegie Hall. Her concert took place June 25, 2014 7:30 p.m. at Carnegie Hall. She hoped that her concert would educate the audience about the plight of LGBT Americans and communities from 1969 through today. It will also showcase the repertoire of African-American composers’ rarely programmed works, which needs exposure. Tona founded the Aida Strings in 2005 with the goal to showcase the talent of artists in the African-American and LGBT communities who had a harder time getting the same exposure or opportunities as others.
These remarkable women are paving the way for other people who might be struggling to come forward for fear of not being accepted by their loved ones. Times are changing and these women are making sure that the transgender community receives the respect they deserve.