Choosing to go public about transitioning is not only an incredibly difficult decision, but one that should be celebrated and respected.
Nick Adams, the Director of Programs, Transgender Media at GLAAD spoke with E! News about how transgender celebrities help pave the way for others in the community to feel hopeful about their futures in the overwhelming face of violence and discrimination.
"Forty-one percent of transgender people report attempting suicide—not thinking about suicide, but attempting suicide. It's not because transgender people are more mentally unstable than anyone else, it's because we live in a culture which makes it seem like it's nearly impossible to be a happy, successful transgender person," Adams explains.
"On average, one transgender woman is murdered every month in the United States in a hate crime. We are actually facing an epidemic of violence targeted at transgender people. We have a long way to go in terms of both legal protections but also just changing the culture so that transgender people can walk down the street safely and not be afraid for their lives.
"Which is why it's so important to have those media stories out there about transgender people who are able to transition and be happy and be successful…So that young transgender youth can see that there's a future for them and there's hope for them."
Adams praises celebrities like Orange Is the New Black's Laverne Cox, Laura Jane Grace of Against Me, Chaz Bono, Lana Wachowski and Vogue model Andreja Pejić for choosing to tell their stories in the media and raise awareness to transgender issues.
"It helps educate everyone about the fact that transgender people are just like everyone else. We can be your coworkers, we can be your friends, we can be your neighbors," Adams shares, adding, "I look forward to the day when people say, 'I'm transgender,' and people go, 'So? What else is interesting about you?'"
Adams quotes Transparent creator Jill Soloway, who says, "Anytime someone makes a break for freedom to be their true self, it can be a challenge, but it's also incredibly exciting."
"For transgender people, it's something where it's a very public process. If you choose to undergo medical steps and change the way you look or even if you ask people to use a new name and a new pronoun to refer to you, it's a very public thing at the time and everybody sort of knows," Adams adds.
"So it's really invaluable to have the love and support of your friends and family as you go through that process. Unfortunately, we know that 40 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBT and a large part of that 40 percent are transgender and gender non-conforming youth, so while family acceptance is extremely important, I know that not all transgender people have that and the consequences are really dire. Many people end up on the street."
Learn more about what it means to be transgender at http://glaad.org/transgender
If you are transgender and need help or advice, contact the TrevorProject http://t.co/guMjyYIfng