Five Trans and Gender Diverse Celebs Who Stood Up to Bullying
by Guest Writer
Though coping with bullying can be a painful and difficult experience, you’re not alone. These transgender and gender-diverse celebrities have all experienced painful harassment throughout their lives, and have found ways to overcome the negativity and channel it into positive self-development(and, sometimes, even humor).
When young Amandla Stenberg was first cast as Rue in the movie version of Suzanne Collins’ popular Hunger Games book series, she was the victim of significant targeted backlash. Despite the character being described in the books as having both dark brown skin and eyes, some fans presumed the character would be cast as white.
Stenberg, who identifies as gay and non-binary, described these attacks as hurtful but not shocking. In a show of remarkable maturity for her young age, she channeled her discomfort into activism against cultural appropriation, sexism, homophobia, racism, and police brutality.
When Australian model-turned-actress Ruby Rose was cast as Batwoman in the CW’s live-action superhero series, she was faced with a massive storm of disdain on Twitter. In accordance with DC’s canonical portrayal of Batwoman, some fans felt that Rose should be both a lesbian and ethnically Jewish to play the character, and demanded that she resign from the role.
In response, Rose, who identifies as genderfluid, opted to shut down her Twitter and disable Instagram comments for a temporary break from the barrage. This break wasn’t without a statement of self-defense, however, in which the Orange is the New Black actress noted that she came out as a lesbian at 12 and has defended attacks of being “too gay” for years.
Despite the reception she received from some fans, Rose stayed committed to the role, and enjoyed playing Batwoman for a well-received season.
Though Jeffree Star is known for his dramatic looks, over the top videos, and posh lifestyle, his early life was impacted by serious trauma and pain. After his father committed suicide during his childhood, Star took comfort in experimenting with his mother’s makeup, eventually choosing to wear it to school. This triggered harassment and taunting from bullies with regard to his sexuality, a trend that continued in the comments of his YouTube channel as he began to build his brand.
While hateful comments seriously impacted Jeffree in his youth, even triggering episodes of self harm, the androgynous beauty influencer finds that success makes it easier to blow off the haters. Referring to himself as a “sponge”, he laughs about even the cruelest comments, sometimes going as far as to read them on video for his legions of fans.
While Orange is the New Black’s Laverne Cox is now a proud trans woman, successful actress, and activist, getting her start in New York City wasn’t so easy. Cox describes having to “emotionally arm” herself daily against transphobic bullying from strangers in the street, stores, and subways. Her experiences in public were so severe that she even planned to commit suicide, leaving documents around her apartment begging others not to deadname her in her passing.
Though Cox says she isn’t sure what stopped her from self harm, she says she is “so grateful” she survived and wants every trans individual to know that they are “here for a divine purpose, no matter what anyone says”.
Born to world-famous entertainers Sonny and Cher as Chastity, Chaz Bono grew up in the spotlight as a beloved part of his parents’ variety show. Despite being the child of a gay icon, Bono found that his mother Cher struggled both with his initial coming out as a lesbian in 1995, and again with his female to male transition in 2008. Though his mother became a source of tremendous support, Bono was estranged from father Sonny at the time of his death in 1998 due to differences in political beliefs.
During Bono’s transition, backlash and bullying from online trolls and conservatives became vicious. Public support from his mother as well as LGBTQ+ organizations like GLAAD made the transition easier for the activist, who documented his experience in the Oprah Winfrey Network film “Becoming Chaz”.
Trans Day of Remembrance Observation
Gay City: Seattle’s LGBTQ Center honors the lives of Trans and Gender Diverse community members in recognition of Trans Day of Remembrance.