Ask anyone in LGBT media and they'll you: Trans visibility is on the upswing in a huge way. Last year The Advocate established a dedicated Transgender channel on this site to better capture how much was and still is going on in the lives and art of trans movers and shakers. The result has been powerful.
Daily accounts of local or national political gains, achievements in arts or sports, and simple, sweet stories of pride and everyday family love have poured in throughout the year. Below, we've highlighted some of the most bold, heartwarming, and eye-opening accomplishments from trans and gender-nonconforming people in 2014.
While there has also been an equal number of stories of tragedy — particularly in the ongoing epidemic of violence against trans women of color in the U.S. and worldwide — we've focused here on the increasing positive presence of trans people's stories being told to an ever-larger public audience. Celebrating and elevating the lives of trans people is just one part of creating a world where antritrans violence is altogether eradictated.
Read on to learn about some of our heroes: the activists, artists, journalists, and everyday men and women who made 2014 one of the best years yet for trans visibility and equality.
1. CeCe McDonald
Prisoner Rights Activist
A Minnesota trans woman imprisoned for second-degree manslaughter in what many trans advocates consider a case of self-defense, McDonald emerged from incarceration in January to find that her case had ignited a national conversation about the policing of trans women of color and prison rights. She now speaks publicly about her experiences and has joined with producer Laverne Cox to tell her story in the forthcoming documentary Free CeCe.
2. Geena Rocero
Model and Founder of Gender Proud
When Rocero came out as a trans woman during a TED talk in April, she was greeted with a standing ovation. Since then, the Filipina model has used her platform to launch Gender Proud, a campaign that brings awareness to the nearly global issue of trans people not being able receive correct identification documents without first undergoing forced sterilization or other forms of genital surgery.
3. Ben Panico
Congressional Aide, LGBT Equality Caucus
Currently the only out trans staffer on Capitol Hill (and only the fourth in the Hill's history) Panico says that he values being able to speak to trans issues in his job of supporting the openly lesbian, gay, and bisexual members of the House as they advance pro-equality legislation.
4. Greta Martela
Founder, Trans Lifeline
When Martela experienced how alienating the suicide hotline experience can be for trans people — a population a with a suicide risk nearly 10 times that of cisgender (nontrans) people — she took it into her own hands to found Trans Lifeline, developed with and staffed solely by trans-identified volunteers.