Elliot Page, Dylan Mulvaney and More Transgender Stars Who've Opened Up About Their Journeys

Transitioning in the public spotlight is not easy, but these stars have spoken candidly about their experiences in hopes of inspiring others to live their authentic selves.

By Gabrielle Chung Jun 10, 2023 10:00 AMTags
Watch: Elliot Page Reflects on Dysphoria Journey With New Shirtless Photo

Take pride in your true self. 

That's what stars who are a part of the trans community are hoping others will learn when they share their own journeys. After all, as Laverne Cox once explained to ABC News, "Having your story told validates your experience. It's like, 'I'm not alone anymore, and maybe I'll be OK.'"

And the number of celebs using their platform to speak on their own experiences keeps growing. TikToker Dylan Mulvaney went viral for candidly chronicling her transition through her "Days of Girlhood" series, while Elliot Page used his voice to "address the full picture" when he came out as transgender in 2020

"My joy is real, but it is also fragile," the Juno star wrote in a lengthy social media statement. "The truth is, despite feeling profoundly happy right now and knowing how much privilege I carry, I am also scared. I'm scared of the invasiveness, the hate, the 'jokes' and of violence."

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Calling out the "rife, insidious and cruel" discrimination those in the transgender community often face, Elliot continued, "To all trans people who deal with harassment, self-loathing, abuse and the threat of violence every day: I see you, I love you and I will do everything I can to change this world for the better."

Getty Images; NBC; E! Illustration

For more celebs speaking out about their trans experiences, keep reading.

Laverne Cox

Growing up in Alabama, the Orange Is the New Black star was relentlessly bullied as a kid "because I didn't act the way someone assigned male at birth was supposed to act," she recalled to ABC News in 2014. The discrimination she faced lead her to attempt suicide in the sixth grade. 

"I was having all these feelings about other boys," Laverne remembered. "And I didn't want to live."

It wasn't until she moved to New York—and started living full-time as a woman after being introduced to the LGBTQ+ community there—that the actress felt what she described as inner "relief."

"I feel like it was something I'd been running away from my whole life," she previously told The Advocate, "something I'd been fighting and trying not to be and trying to negotiate, instead of just trying to be who I am."

Teddy Geiger

The musician's hit "For You I Will (Confidence)" may be about overcoming your fears, but she privately struggled with living her truth before coming out as a trans woman in 2017.

"I just remember looking at myself in the mirror and being like, 'I wish I was a girl,'" Teddy explained in a 2020 interview with Today. "For so long, I learned to push away those feelings when they come to me, not ever allowing myself to really explore those feelings and and explore thoughts. And so, basically it was coming out as a lot of anxiety and a lot of compulsions."

And since transitioning, the singer said she feels "a lot more connected" to herself.

"In the past few years, I feel I've come into who I am, like coming through the shame I had to deal with being trans," she told Apple Music in 2021, "and dealt with a lot of my OCD and anxiety."

Tommy Dorfman

The 13 Reasons Why star had been "privately identifying and living as a woman" for a year before going public with her medical transition in 2021. 

"I've learned as a public-facing person that my refusal to clarify can strip me of the freedom to control my own narrative," she shared in an interview with Time. "My intervention is evolution—I'm just another person transitioning. I'm showing gender fluidity; how fast and dynamic and vulnerable it can be, how it's an ongoing thing."

For the actress, transitioning also meant learning "the types of romantic partnerships I seek out are different."

"I was in a nine-year relationship in which I was thought of as a more male-bodied person, with a gay man," explained Tommy, who went on to divorce Peter Zurkuhlen in 2022. "I love him so much, but we've been learning that as a trans woman, what I'm interested in is not necessarily reflected in a gay man. So we've had incredible conversations to redefine our relationship as friends."

Elliot Page

After years of quietly struggling with gender dysphoria, the Juno alum came out as transgender in December 2020. "My joy is real, but it is also fragile," he wrote in a social media statement at the time. "The truth is, despite feeling profoundly happy right now and knowing how much privilege I carry, I am also scared. I'm scared of the invasiveness, the hate, the 'jokes' and of violence."

He added, "To all trans people who deal with harassment, self-loathing, abuse and the threat of violence every day: I see you, I love you and I will do everything I can to change this world for the better."

True to his word, Elliot has since continued to be open about his journey, including his recovery from top surgery. "Dysphoria used to be especially rife in the summer," he captioned a shirtless selfie in May. "No layers, just a T-shirt - or layers and oh so sweaty - constantly looking down, readjusting my oversized T. It feels so f'ing good soaking in the sun now, I never thought I could experience this, the joy I feel in my body."

The Umbrella Academy star also detailed his transition in his newly released memoir, Pageboy.

Dylan Mulvaney

From facial feminization surgery to facing public backlash, the influencer left no stone unturned while documenting her day-to-day as a transgender woman in her popular "Days of Girlhood" TikTok videos. She celebrated the series' first anniversary in March, starring in a one-woman cabaret show to benefit The Trevor Project.

"I always thought of myself as a follower before I transitioned, and now I do feel like a leader," she told E! News at the event. "I feel like I'm ready to step up and take on some leadership skills."

Dylan added, "And thank god we finally got here, because I never want to go back!" 

Laura Jane Grace

The Against Me! singer can trace back feelings of gender dysphoria into her childhood days. "It was just this thing that I felt like, 'This is what I want to do. I'm a girl. I need to express this part of me,'" she recalled a 2014 cover story for Magnet magazine. "It was like this thing that would build to the point like you would get such anxiety until you had the chance to be alone behind a locked door and express that part of yourself. And that just kind of continued as I got older."

To "turn those feelings off" and "forget about the reality," Laura said she became heavily involved in drugs and alcohol, spending years wrestling with depression as a result. It wasn't until she was in her '30s when she realized that "these feelings aren't going away" and came out as transgender in 2012.

"I'm very much figuring it out day by day, what it all means, and trying to navigate my life going forward," she admitted. "And I'm a f--king wreck in a lot of ways. But at the same time, I've overcome something that was holding me back in so many ways, and I know that's a very good thing."

Chaz Bono

Though he was assigned as female at birth, Chaz—who is the only child of Cher and Sonny Bono—said he always "felt like a boy." 

"Going to into puberty, the expectations around me started to change or how I was supposed to act, but it also felt as if my body was like literally betraying me," the musician recalled to Oprah Winfrey in 2014, several years after he began his transition. "I went from a very athletic, straight up-and-down little kid to a very curvaceous woman and it was a just horrifying to me. It's just a horrible time because you have this image of yourself and all of the sudden your body just does exactly the opposite of how you feel."

His experience was chronicled in the 2011 documentary Becoming Chaz.

Zaya Wade

Growing up in the spotlight is already hard enough, but it's a lot tougher when you're figuring out your gender identity at the same time. Still, Zaya—whose dad is retired NBA all-star Dwyane Wade—has managed to keep her head up through it all. 

"As a trans person, once I came out, there was a lot of hateful comments about how I should grow my hair out long or fit into a certain version of femininity, even though that's not true at all," she told People last year. "That kind of advice is just trying to break you, but don't let it."

So, why go public with her journey? "The positives of having such an inclusive platform completely outweigh all of the negativity online," Zaya, whose support system includes her dad and stepmom Gabrielle Union, said in a March 2023 interview with Dazed. "It has allowed me to let in the positivity and distribute it to all of the trans people in the world who need a voice and give them a platform to get inspired to live with themselves without being afraid."

Gigi Gorgeous

As the self-proclaimed "Queen of Coming Out," Gigi has been chronicling her gender identity journey on her YouTube channel for years—first identifying as a homosexual man before transitioning to a pansexual woman. "When I came out as transgender, that was the hardest for me," she told NBC News in 2019. "I knew it was going to be a long way to go, a really long journey with many steps to take."

The beauty influencer added that by sharing her story, she hopes to help "those few rare people who are maybe in the exact same situation."

"If I can be your friend through the screen and help you and educate you from my experience, I'm here for it," Gigi said. "The pros outweigh the cons by a million."

Jazz Jennings

The YouTuber found the power in her platform when she was 6, breaking barriers for the trans community as she spoke about her struggles with gender dysphoria on a 2007 20/20 special with Barbara Walters. Since then, Jazz has continued to be open about the ups and downs of her journey on the long-running TLC series I Am Jazz, including chronicling her gender-confirmation surgeries.

"It was hard to decide how open I should be just because so many large-profile transgender people don't talk about their surgeries," she recalled in a 2021 Variety profile. "But for me, I just think I wanted to educate as many people as possible on the experience and what it's like to go through it firsthand."

Carmen Carrera

According to the RuPaul's Drag Race alum, she started transitioning "literally the day after" appearing on the third season of the reality competition. By the time episodes aired in 2011, she was already a year into hormone replacement therapy.

"I was 25 and I'm not gonna be truly happy with myself unless I transition," she recalled telling herself in a 2016 video with Self. "Going through what it feels like to have a chemical change where my testosterone levels are cut low and my estrogen levels are up high, I did gain a crazy emotional awareness that I never had before."

She added, "I love the fact that I'm able to function and live, and not be so in my mind [and] be judging myself. It will drive you insane when you're not comfortable in your own skin."

Hari Nef

The actress has been pretty transparent about her journey, even going so far as to live-tweet her tracheal shave.

"I could have hid in Boston and lived at home for three years, gone through my transition, taken voice lessons to make my voice more feminine, gotten gender reassignment surgery, and spent time to complete my transition before I made my debut in fashion or film, but I didn't want to wait!" Hari—who is the first trans woman to sign with modeling agency IMG Worldwide, told Vogue in 2014. "I wanted to be in the world."

Michaela Jaé Rodriguez

While some LGBTQ+ celebs have chosen to transition in the spotlight, the Pose actress opted to go on a career hiatus in 2012 for her personal journey. 

"There was an enhancing that had to take place—mental enhancing, physical enhancing, all those things—but that was specifically for me, and I needed time for myself," she told Playbill of that period. "I couldn't put that in the public eye yet, because I wasn't ready for the public eye to see it, so I had to take time to myself to figure a lot of things out."

And since her reemergence, the Broadway star has "gotten to a place of being comfortable, and with reaching that place, I also wanted to show that there are trans women out there who can do anything they can put their mind to."

Kim Petras

In 2007, when she was 16, the "Unholy" singer's quest to live authentically made headlines in her native Germany as she sought permission from the medical community to undergo gender confirmation surgery as a teen. She was approved for the procedure a year later, with Kim telling The Telegraph after undergoing surgery, "The truth is I have always felt like a woman—I just ended up in the wrong body."

Caitlyn Jenner

After spending decades struggling with gender identity and hiding her desires to live authentically from family and friends, the Olympian came out as transgender in an April 2015 interview with Diane Sawyer, declaring, "Yes, for all intents and purposes I am a woman." 

She introduced herself as Caitlyn on the cover of Vanity Fair two months later, telling the magazine of her transition, "I'm not doing this to be interesting. I'm doing this to live."

She added, "If I was lying on my deathbed and I had kept this secret and never ever did anything about it, I would be lying there saying, 'You just blew your entire life,' 'You never dealt with yourself,' and I don't want that to happen." 

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