Meet Five Transgender Babes Helping Pop Culture Evolve

The New York Times recently published a piece celebrating the presence of transgender people in pop culture, and we couldn’t be happier to share their stories.

Here are the beauties who can check “appearing in the Times style section” off their bucket list:

Screen Shot 2014-03-13 at 7.46.38 AMLaverne Cox

Laverne got her start in the NYC downtown club scene, a staple at Flamingo East in the East Village and performing “operatic versions of heavy metal songs” at Squeezebox. She struggled with internalized transphobia at the time, living between genders and trying to find her place.

She transitioned in the late 00’s and was cast on VH1’s reality show I Want To Work For Diddy, and made it halfway through.

And thank goddess she didn’t end up working for Diddy, because last year she got her big break on Orange Is The New Black as the hardened but sweet Sophia Burset.

She isn’t shy about speaking about her experiences, and you might recall an interview with Katie Couric that got especially testy.

She told the Times:

“Just because there’s a few trans folks having lovely careers and having moments of visibility does not mean that a lot of trans folks lives are not in peril. We need to remember those folks who are struggling, particularly trans women of color who are on the margins.”

janet-mock-headshotJanet Mock

Janet met a trans girl, Wendy, in middle school and started glossing up her lips at age 12. By 15 she’d started on hormones.

In Honolulu where she grew up, she was a high school honor student by day, prostitute by night. The extra money she earned paid for a trip to Thailand to get gender reassignment surgery.

She became an editor at, and came out as transgender in 2011.

Her memoir, “Redefining Realness,” has generated much interest, and you probably recall another interview mishap, this time with CNN’s Piers Morgan.

BOELOValentijn de Hingh

Valentijn’s transition from male to female as a child was filmed by a camera crew for the documentary Valentijn, and the cameras haven’t stopped since for the striking beauty.

By the time she graduated high school she was walking down runways for the likes of Comme des Garçons and Maison Martin Margiela. Werk.

Her TED Talk in Amsterdam, “Why Did I Choose?” talks about her experience finding a “new understanding of womanhood.”

You may remember seeing her in the recent Barney’s campaign shot by Bruce Weber which featured 16 transgender models.

Leave it to the Dutch to be amazingly progressive – Valentijn’s parents “read about transgender children in a magazine when Ms. de Hingh was 5 and took her to a hospital in the Netherlands with a program for gender-variant children.”

Not everything comes easy though. “I still have a hard time with dating,” the 23 year-old told the Times. “I have some figuring out to do.”

13TRANSNATION-master495Rhys Ernst and Zackary Drucker

Rhys and Zackary are a gorgeous transgender couple who have a photography exhibit – “Relationship” – at the Whitney Biennial. It explores their individual gender transitions, what that meant for their relationship and how their love evolved and transitioned alongside them.

Drucker told the Times that for her the show is about “learning to love ourselves and deflect the distortions” that keep love from coming in.

They live in Los Angeles where they’re currently consulting with Amazon about a show called “Transplant” about an aging man (Jeffery Tambour) who is beginning to transition gender.

Drucker is also thinking big picture. She told the Times she wants to “get to a point where we ‘surpass’ all the binaries of gender altogether.”

“That would be the greatest transition of all,” she said.

Read the full article here.