Today, there’s more representation for LGBTQ+ individuals in Hollywood than there’s ever been. This means that there are more celebrities that can share more of their personal identity with their fans, including their gender identity. These celebrities have all opened up about their journies as transgender, nonbinary, and genderqueer public figures, inspiring millions in the process.
Fans of Orange Is the New Black had the chance to see Laverne Cox’s breakout role as Sophia Burset. The actress portrayed the role so well, she became the first transgender actress nominated for a Primetime Emmy for acting.
Cox has used her fame to make strides as an activist as well. She told Time in 2014 that, “We are in a place now where more and more trans people want to come forward and say, ‘This is who I am,’ and more trans people are willing to tell their stories.”
Sam Smith first started gaining fame in 2012 after they released their single, “Latch.” Since then, their fame has only rocketed with releases such as Stay with Me.
Smith announced in 2019 that they were non-binary. They said that “After a lifetime of being at war with my gender I’ve decided to embrace myself for who I am, inside and out.” They have said, “Nonbinary/genderqueer is that you do not identify in a gender. You are a mixture of all different things. You are your own special creation.”
It was very recently that Demi Lovato addressed fans on Instagram. They said, “I am proud to let you know that I identify as non-binary.”
They continued on to say, “I’m still learning and coming into myself and I don’t claim to be an expert or a spokesperson. Sharing this with you now opens another level of vulnerability for me.” In the announcement, they also shared that their pronouns are they/them.
Elliot Page has been in Hollywood since they were young. They’ve made their mark for roles in movies like Juno, shows like The Umbrella Academy, and even video games like Beyond: Two Souls.
At the beginning of December 2020, Page used social media to announce that he was transgender. The post read, “Hi friends, I want to share with you that I am trans, my pronouns are he/they, and my name is Elliot.” He also announced he would continue his efforts as an activist.
Laura Jane Grace
Another punk musician, Laura Jane Grace is the frontwoman and founding member of the band Against Me!. She also started the band Laura Jane Grace & The Devouring Mothers in 2016.
Grace came out as a woman to her fans in 2012. She’s even shared that she was inspired by meeting a transgender fan of Against Me! while the band was on tour. Her coming out was lauded as courageous by the GLAAD president at the time, Herndon Graddick.
Fans of Atypical will recognize Brigette Lundy-Paine from their role as Casey Gardner. They’ve also had roles in Bombshell and Bill & Ted Face the Music.
In November of 2019, Lundy-Paine announced that they were non-binary and that they use they/them pronouns. They said in their coming out post on Instagram, “I’m non-binary, always felt a lil bit boy, lil bit girl, lil bit neither. Using they/them as of late n it feel right.” They also noted that while it was scary to come out, they owed it to themselves to do it.
On July 15, 2015, TLC debuted their new show, I am Jazz. Still on today, the show focused on the day-to-day life of Jazz Jennings, who started the show at 14.
Being a celebrity for so long, it makes sense that Jazz would have a unique perspective on living life in the public eye. She’s said, “I’ve always been so honest about who I am as a person. And being transgender, I feel like it’s something that I couldn’t hide no matter what.”
If you’re a fan of Steven Universe or Adventure Time, you’re familiar with Rebecca Sugar’s work. They worked as the creator of the first and a storyboard artist and writer on the latter project.
Both bisexual and non-binary themselves, Sugar has made clear how crucial LGBTQ+ representation in kids’ media is. When they came out as non-binary, they shared that they use both she/her and they/them pronouns. Their work on Steven Universe earned a GLAAD Media Award and added to the James Tiptree Jr. Award Honor List.
Jonathan Van Ness
The remake of Queer Eye has been successful and few people don’t know who Jonathan Van Ness is at this point. In 2019, they shared with Out magazine that they were nonbinary.
Specifically, they said, “The older I get, the more I think that I’m nonbinary – I’m gender non-conforming.” They went on to share, “I just didn’t know what the name was. I’ve been wearing heels and wearing makeup and wearing skirts and stuff for a minute, honey.”
Audiences were taken with Euphoria when HBO released it. This was partially thanks to Hunter Schafer’s portrayal of the character Jules alongside Zendaya’s character Rue.
Schafer’s activism began early including protesting against the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act while still in high school. She has stated, “I do like people to know that I’m not a cis girl because that’s not something that I am or feel like I am. I’m proud to be a trans person.”
Miley Cyrus is a familiar face to many. It makes sense – as a Disney alum, the musician has been on screens and on stages for quite some time.
In an interview with Billboard magazine, she’s described herself as “a gender-neutral and sexually fluid person,” speaking about her gender identity and pansexuality. She has said that she personally “doesn’t relate to being a boy or girl and I don’t have to have my partner relate to boy or girl.”
America’s Next Top Model fans will remember Isis King for her run on the show’s 11th and 17th cycles. Her run during the 11th cycle made her the first transgender woman to compete on the show.
Since her time on America’s Next Top Model, King has also had roles on shows such as Shameless and The Bold and the Beautiful. She also appears in the series Strut by Whoopi Goldberg which is a biographical look into the careers of transgender models.
Shea Couleé is best known for their work as a drag queen and musician. They even took home the crown on season 5 of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars.
Since their career started, they’ve done everything from movies and television to music and internet series. They have also shared with fans that they use they/she pronouns and identifies as non-binary. More specifically, they prefer she/her pronouns when performing drag but they/them pronouns outside of their drag persona.
Asia Kate Dillon
Another Orange Is the New Black alum, Asia Kate Dillon played Brandy Epps. On top of that, they later went on to play the first nonbinary character on television in North America with their character in Billions.
Rather than making a single coming-out announcement, Dillon started to remove the gendered pronouns from their biography in 2015. This was around the same time that they auditioned for the role of Mason in Billions which they say helped them understand their own identity.
For those who love to curl up and rewatch She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, you have Noelle Stevenson to thank for that. They were the creator, executive producer, and showrunner for the series.
Stevenson describes themselves as nonbinary and described themselves on Twitter on International Nonbinary Day in 2020 as “nonbinary, or something like it.” For a more in-depth look at their story, they created a graphic novel and memoir called The Fire Never Goes Out: A Memoir in Pictures.
Elliot Fletcher’s career started with his debut as Noah on MTV’s Faking It. He would continue on to join the casts of both The Fosters and Shameless for a time.
Fletcher came out as a transgender man very shortly after celebrating his 17th birthday, sharing that they use he/him pronouns. The actor was also a part of a project in 2017 by Jen Richards that served as a filmed message to Hollywood to open more and better roles for transgender actors and actresses.
Brian Michael Smith
An amazing actor and advocate for transgender representation in the media, Brian Michael Smith isn’t an actor to miss. You can see him in Queen Sugar, The L Word: Generation Q, andz 9-1-1: Lone Star.
Smith has been out for a good portion of his life and identified as a man from early in their childhood. He’s dedicated a good portion of his time to advocacy too. He especially fights for queer representation in media and recently took part in the Netflix Documentary Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen by Sam Feder.
Anyone who followed Grey’s Anatomy will recognize Sara Ramirez. While they have publicly been out as bisexual for some time, they came out as nonbinary on Instagram in August of 2020.
The caption reads: “In me is the capacity to be girlish boy, boyish girl, boyish boy, girlish girl, all, neither.” In case this wasn’t clear enough, they added the nonbinary hashtag to the end of the post. The artist has shared that they use she/they pronouns.
Another entry from the team that brought us She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, Jacob Tobia voiced the character Double Trouble. They also have an extensive library of written work.
As for their own identity within the queer community, Tobia describes themselves as genderqueer. They also use singular they pronouns. They’ve discussed their identity in many written pieces including pieces like Why I’m Genderqueer, Professional and Unafraid for The Huffington Post. They’ve also written an autobiography titled Sissy: A Coming-of-Gender Story.
Ellie Desautels broke onto the scene in Hollywood with their portrayal of Michael Hallowell in Rise. On top of this, they’ve also worked on other roles and as a singer and songwriter.
As a nonbinary person, Desautels has used their art in their activism. Their college thesis revolved around telling genuine stories of transgender and nonbinary individuals called Oh, Sweet Child. They’ve continued to spread this message as they rose to fame as well.
Bex Taylor-Klause started their career early, showing a love for Shakespeare in only elementary school. It was the role of Bullet in The Killing that really kicked their career off, though.
Taylor-Klaus first came out as gay in 2016, stating, “Hello my name is Bex and yes the rumors are true I am gay.” In July of 2018, they came out once again, this time as nonbinary. At this time, they also shared that their pronouns are they/them.
With a large role in Pose as Angel Evangelista, LGBTQ+ audiences are familiar with Indya Moore’s work. This year, they’re set to play a role in the new Escape Room movie as well.
Throughout their career, Moore has been open about their identity as nonbinary and transgender. They’ve also talked openly about their experiences with bullying and transphobia throughout their life. They’ve also discussed the scrutiny they’ve been put under in being perceived as a woman by critics in Hollywood. The artist uses both they/them and she/her pronouns.
Ezra Miller has graced screens in a number of roles. Comic book fans can see them in Justice League while they took on a role in The Perks of Being a Wallflower or even in the Stephen King-inspired series, The Stand.
In 2012, Miller shared that they were queer and later shared that they use they/them pronouns. They clarified this with the statement, “I don’t identify as a man. I don’t identify as a woman. I barely identify as human.”
Candis Cayne has a long career including her role as Carmelita on Dirty Sexy Money. With this role, Cayne became known as the first transgender woman to play a recurring primetime transgender character.
Cayne came out early in her career, in 1996. She’s since said, “I’m not trying to be a spokeswoman for the transgender community; I just want to be looked at as a living, breathing, happy human being.” In 2020, she took part in the documentary Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen.
With roles in titles like Scream 4, Odd Thomas, and The Following under their belt, Nico Tortorella has managed to keep audiences on the edge of their seats when they come on screen.
In 2016, they shared that they were queer in first saying they were sexually fluid once to the New York Post and told Vulture they were bisexual only a few months later. They came out once more in a video with Trinity the Tuck in 2016 in which they described themselves as genderfluid and expressed that they use they/them pronouns.
While Hollywood is full of talented individuals, it’s worth stepping over into the world of sports for representation as well. Canadian-born athlete Quinn has made quite the name for themselves as a soccer player.
In 2020, Quinn came out as transgender and announced that they use they/them pronouns. While there were supportive responses, Quinn has shared that they were particularly disappointed to see media coverage using their birth name. They continue to play as a midfielder for the Canada Women’s National Soccer Team.
Jamie Clayton is an actress and model that you might have caught in Sense8 or for her role on Designated Survivor. More recently, she’s taken roles in series like The L Word: Generation Q as Tess.
With early dreams of being a makeup artist, though, one of Clayton’s first appearances was on the VH1 show, TRANSform Me, produced by Laverne Cox. Out magazine has honored this transgender actress by including her in their Out 100 awards.
Valentina Sampaio is an accomplished model and has even tried her hand at acting. Not to mention, she holds the title of “first” in a few of her accomplishments.
Sampaio identified as a woman from a young age, saying that she took on the name Valentina at age 12. While her classmates were accepting, she did lose her first modeling job for her identity. That didn’t stop her from later becoming the first transgender Victoria’s Secret model or the first openly transgender model on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.
Amandla Stenberg has made quite the impression on the world already. They’ve been on the Time list of Most Influential Teens twice and won an NAACP Image Award.
Most audiences know them as the performer behind Rue in The Hunger Games. They’ve stated that they’re nonbinary and that they use both she/her and they/them pronouns. Stenberg has used their fame to aid in their activism, a huge portion of which is dedicated to helping LGBTQ+ youth.
If you were one of the millions who tuned in to see how Netflix adapted 13 Reasons Why, you’ll recognize Tommy Dorfman. They played the role of Ryan Shaver.
Their work didn’t go unnoticed either. The same year they were introduced on 13 Reasons Why, they won the GLAAD Rising Star Award. It was also in 2017 that Dorfman came out as nonbinary and stated that their pronouns were they/them. They had already identified as queer previously to this coming-out announcement.
Joey Soloway is an artist in a number of ways as the creator, writer, producer, and director behind a number of projects. Notably, they worked on Transparent in all of these roles, eventually earning two Emmys.
Soloway actually didn’t come out until later in life. They use they/them pronouns and identify as gender non-conforming and nonbinary. In June of 2020, they announced that they’d changed their name to Joey. They’ve even taken the time to delve into their road to a nonbinary identity after 50 in their memoir, She Wants It.
Liv Hewson is an actor and playwright best known for their work on Netflix’s Santa Clarita Diet. They’ve described their written work as “lots of reimaginings of fairytales and mythology with a queer and dark slant.”
Hewson was only 16 when they came out as nonbinary, letting people know that they used they/them pronouns. Their activism hasn’t gone unnoticed either. The Human Rights Campaign awarded Hewson their Visibility Award for their LGBTQ+ advocacy.
Courtney Act is a well-known name. Even before they graced the drag competition RuPaul’s Drag Race, they became a household name on the debut season of Australian Idol.
Act hasn’t slowed down since their days in competition TV, though. They’ve expanded their discography both as a solo artist and as a guest or member of a group, acted in a number of movies and TV shows, and even showed up in a number of web series. Act identifies as pansexual, polyamorous, and genderfluid.
Ruby Rose is a model and actress that almost everyone knows at this point. From her work in Orange Is the New Black to Resident Evil: The Final Chapter to Batwoman, she a library that would impress anyone.
She’s shared that she saved up to transition when she was younger but now identifies as genderfluid and uses feminine pronouns. She’s said, “I am very gender fluid and feel more like I wake up every day sort of gender neutral.”
Angelica Ross is a woman with many skillsets. Not only an actress, but Ross has also worked as a businesswoman and an activist and transgender rights advocate as well.
As an actress, you might recognize Ross from her work in Pose or in her role as Donna Chambers in American Horror Story: 1984. Her work as a businesswoman is impressive too, including founding and serving as the CEO of TransTech Social Enterprises which aimed to help employ transgender tech professionals.
Lachlan Watson is early in their career and they’ve already made quite an impact. They’re best known for their work on the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina as Theo Putnam.
The performer is often cited as one of the youngest nonbinary actors in Hollywood and uses they/them pronouns. They were also a part of another project titled What I Wish You Knew: About Being Nonbinary including other celebrities on this list such as Jacob Tobia and Liv Hewson.
Rhea Butcher has worn many hats over the course of their career. They’ve hosted a podcast, done standup comedy, performed as an actor, writer, and worked as a producer.
Butcher is nonbinary and once tweeted, “I am queer and non binary and butch and gender nonconforming and a lesbian and a woman and a boy and a kid and a dude and a kind of man that is nearly impossible to describe.” They also voiced the nonbinary character, Asher, in Kip and the Age of Wonderbeasts.
Nikkie de Jager
If you don’t recognize Nikkie de Jager by name, you’ve probably heard of her YouTube channel, NikkieTutorials. There, the makeup artist offers tips and tutorials as well as vlogs.
In January 2020, Jager released a video on her channel titled “I’m Coming Out.” In the video, she revealed two things. First, she discussed her identity as a transgender woman and revealed that she was prompted to come out when someone tried to blackmail her by threatening to publicly out her without her consent.
Chaz Bono is famous in his own right as well as being the son of Sonny Bono and Cher. Fans can recognize him from his work on shows like American Horror Story and Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Bono has written a number of books on their life experiences including Transition: Becoming Who I Was Always Meant to Be and The End of Innocence: A Memoir. He has also worked extensively as an LGBT activist and even served as a spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign.
Gigi Gorgeous rose to fame on YouTube but has worked as a model and actress as well. She gained popularity thanks to the content on her YouTube channel, especially vlogs.
In 2013, Gorgeous shared that she is transgender with the world and later thanked “transgender model and performing artist Amanda Lepore and the death of my mother for sparking my transition.” She’s also written a memoir titled He Said, She Said: Lessons, Stories, and Mistakes From My Transgender Journey.
King Princess is a musician from Brooklyn whose career shows her talent and personal style. After all, you have to be pretty talented to be asked to sign with a music label at only 11, even if you refuse.
Speaking on her identity, she’s shared that she’s genderqueer and gay. Talking to W magazine, she said, “I like being a woman sometimes,” and continued, “But I’m not fully a woman. I’m somebody who falls center on the gender spectrum and it changes day to day. It’s just not in me to decide.”
Rain Dove is a model known for their gender-nonconforming work. They’ve posed both in masculine and feminine shoots. They’ve been cited more than once as a model redefining the standards of beauty.
The model has described their own experience by calling themselves a “gender capitalist” and sharing that “I’ve never really cared about pronouns for my own descriptors.” They have also dedicated time to activism and supported Phluid Project, the first nonbinary clothing store in New York.
Hari Nef is most recognizable to audiences for her role on Transparent as Gittel. However, she’s worked extensively as a writer and model as well as an actress.
She holds the accolade of being the first transgender woman to sign to IMG Worldwide. If you aren’t familiar with the name of the company, the agency also hosts famous names like Gigi Hadid and Gisele Bündchen. After that, she became the first transgender woman on the cover of a major British magazine.
Ian Harvie is recognizable from his work on Transparent but he’s a comedian in his own right as well. He often works his life experiences and his identity into his standup routines.
He’s shared before that he knew that he was transgender at an early age but didn’t quite have the vocabulary to describe his experience with his gender identity. He officially came out as transgender when he was 32. Today, he spends a lot of his time advocating for more well-written roles for transgender performers in Hollywood.
Jayne County has left her mark on punk music with her long career. Alongside her place in the early punk scene, she has done her part as an activist as well.
For one, Jayne County became a regular patron at the Stonewall Inn, leading her to take part in the Stonewall riots. She initially changed her name to Jayne County and publicly performed as a woman in 1979. In 1996, she released her autobiography Man Enough to be a Woman.