June 2015 is shaping up to be a memorable Pride Month for the transgender community since a Vanity Fair cover formally introduced Caitlyn Jenner to the world. The high profile & very public transition has been hailed as a milestone for transgender awareness & visibility.

In honor of this new awareness we wanted to feature transgender icons past and present that have guided the movement & earned their place in the limelight over the past few decades.

Here are just 15 of the individuals who have raised the profile of transgender people worldwide.Christine-Jorgensen-xex-
Christine Jorgensen 
In 1952, Christine Jorgensen became the first widely known person to undergo gender confirmation surgery. The late trans activist, who died at 62 in 1989, decided the intrigued media wouldn’t dictate her image. Jorgensen openly spoke about her transition and once said, “I decided if they wanted to see me, they would have to pay for it.”
Before her transition, Jorgensen served as a clerk in the Army and in 1967 she released a memoir titled Christine Jorgensen: A Personal Biography.

Candy Darling

Actress of both stage and screen, celebrity of 60s & 70s immortalized in the songs of Lou Reed and the Rolling Stones.  Candy Darling was one of Andy Warhol’s gaggle of girls, discovered by the artist when she was working as a waitress. She was featured alongside fellow Superstar Joe Dallesandro in Trash, and joined Holly Woodlawn and Jackie Curtis in Warhol’s production of Women in Revolt, directed by Paul Morrissey – the 1971 cult classic mocking the trans-exclusionary feminists of the 70s. In 2009, C☆NDY, which calls itself “the first transversal style magazine”, debuted in her namesake. A feature-length documentary on Darling, titled Beautiful Darling, premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival (or Berlinale) in February 2010. The documentary features archival film and video footage, photographs, personal papers, archival audio interviews.

Crystal LaBeija

In 1977 an imperious, elegant queen named Crystal LaBeija announced that a ball she’d helped put together was being given by the House of LaBeija, as in House of Chanel or House of Dior. It was a p.r. gimmick, something to add a little more panache and, not incidentally, to increase the luster of Crystal LaBeija. The concept caught on, and suddenly every ball was being given by a house which then developed to the modern NYC Ballroom Scene. Crystal LaBeija is best known for her appearance & reading session in 1967 documentary “The Queen”.

renee richards

Renée Richards

Richards is an ophthalmologist, author and former professional tennis player.
After transitioning in 1975, she was banned from playing in the U.S. Open by the United States Tennis Association (USTA) because only biological women were allowed to participate in the tournament. Richards fought the ban and a 1977 New York Supreme Court decision ruled in her favor. This was a landmark decision in favor of transgender rights. Through her fight to play tennis as a woman, she challenged gender roles and became a role model and spokesperson for the transgender community.

Thomas Beatie
In 2008 Thomas Beatie became famous when he revealed that he was pregnant with his first child.
Soon after Beatie and his wife, Nancy, made headlines and he became known as “the pregnant man.”
The couple now has three children, all carried by Thomas, and he recently revealed that he is considering undergoing a hysterectomy.

Isis King
King was the first (and, thus far, only) trans model to be featured on the reality fashion competition “America’s Next Top Model.” She was seen on both the 11th and 17th cycles of the show.
Candis Cayne
Candis Cayne
Cayne made history when she accepted a role on “Dirty Sexy Money” and became the first transgender actress to play a recurring transgender character in prime time.
She’s also appeared on “Nip/Tuck,” “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” and “Necessary Roughness.”



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