2015 has been a banner year for the transgender community with an unprecedented level of visibility in mainstream press and with so many gains being made in areas such as health care, civil rights, and acceptance. But along with the highs have been so low pints such as the horrendous murder rate of trans women of color, the repeal of the Houston Equal Rights Ordnance, and the “bathroom bills” which have been introduced in so many states. But overall 2015 has been a good year full of progress. Below are some of the people and the stories which have been among the most compelling of the year.
The story which generated the biggest amount of buzz has been the emergence of Caitlyn Jenner, which began with her coming out in the Vanity Fair cover story in their June issue.
While there is no debating that she has generated a huge amount of attention in the mainstream press, which is definitely a good thing, she has also ignited a firestorm of controversy within the transgender community. Many people have been upset over some of her transphobic statements and feel she is not representative of the average trans person and of the community as a whole, and she has done little to help herself with some of the comments she has made. But the bottom line is that she has made trans people more relevant and has been a catalyst for discussion, which will lead to education and ultimately progress for the community. So love her or hate her, Caitlyn is here to stay and is making a difference.
The television series Transparent was created by Jill Soloway for Amazon Studios and debuted on February 6, 2014. The series focuses on a Los Angeles family who discovers that the person they knew as their father Mort is transgender.
Jeffrey Tambor leads an amazing cast with his portrayal of transgender woman Maura as she struggles to come out to her family and accept who she is and the new life she is embarking on. Tambor won his first Emmy Award as best actor, plus a Golden Globe last winter for his role on Transparent. He dedicated his award to the trans community with a beautifully touching speech in which he said “I’ve been given the opportunity to act because people’s lives depend on it,” the actor said while on stage. “Thank you for your courage. Thank you for your stories. Thank you for your inspiration.”
Transparent also features trans actress Alexandra Billings and the writing of Our Lady J, the show’s first trans writer. She is also a renowned classical pianist who was named by OUT Magazine to the “Out 100” list of people who have shaped the LGBT culture. Our Lady J has been very vocal in her efforts to get Hollywood executives to hire trans people to tell their stories, both in front of the camera and behind the scenes.
Janet Mock is an author, journalist, television host, and activist who is widely considered one of the most inspiring and powerful people in the trans community. Mock was described as the person who writes the script for transgender activism, which was so eloquently expressed when she stated “I am a trans woman. My sisters are trans women. We are not shameful. We are worthy of respect, desire, and love. As there are many kinds of women, and many men desire many kinds of women, trans women are amongst these women. And let’s be clear: Trans women are women.”
Mock is the first transgender host with her show on MSNBC So Popular and was the first transgender author to top the New York Times Bestseller List with her highly acclaimed Redefining Realness. She is also the creator of one of our culture’s most popular hashtags, #girlslikeus., and has created transgender specific programs for the TQBGL center of the Hetrick-Martin Institute , which operates the Harvey Milk High School, a New York City school for TQBGL students.