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Trans Trailblazers You May Not Know About

BY: Trevor News
Illustration featuring Wendy Carlos, Miss Major, SOPHIE, and Aaron Rose

Women’s History Month is dedicated to celebrating the trailblazers who have changed the world, and reminding everyone that women and gender-expansive people deserve to be seen, heard, and loved. Still, Women’s History Month simply doesn’t acknowledge trans women like it should. We’re much more used to seeing celebrations of girl-bosses like Susan B. Anthony or Hillary Clinton, but women like Sylvia Rivera, Chelsea Manning, Marsha P. Johnson, Zaya Wade, and Chrstine Jorgensen aren’t given the same spotlight. And even though it has become more common to see trans people prominent in popular culture, they are rare examples of people breaking through a largely cisgender mainstream.

What’s more, it has become absolutely clear that trans people are still not safe. Between anti-trans violence and hostile rhetoric, the erasure of access to medical and gender-affirming care, and anti-LGBTQ legislation on the rise across the nation,trans people continue to be subjected to undue hardship. Trans women, just like everyone else, deserve respect, safety, and love. They deserve justice. Their accomplishments and stories should be celebrated every single day. And they shouldn’t have to be spectacular or famous to get basic acceptance and care.

It can feel radical to imagine a world where trans women and LGBTQ people in general are safer, more loved, more embraced — but imagine it. If we lived in a world where LGBTQ people were accepted completely, we may know about more trans trailblazers, and we wouldn’t lose our sisters before they make an impact on the world or even self-actualize. 

We’re here to share a bit about a few women you may not know about, but you should.

Miss Major Griffin Gracy (she/her)

Miss Major Griffin-Gracy (also known as Miss Major or Mama) is a living veteran of the Stonewall Rebellion, trans activist, and community leader advocating for incarcerated individuals. She specifically advocates on behalf of Black trans women who have survived police brutality. Miss Major continues her work as an activist at House of GG (the Griffin-Gracy Educational Retreat and Historical Center) and produces media that advances the story of Black trans women across the nation.

SOPHIE (she/her)

Sophie Xeon, also known as SOPHIE, was an immensely inventive and influential musician and producer, and one of the most important trans musicians of all time. SOPHIE’s music defied traditional pop song structures and combined dissonant melodies with underground dance beats; her style is now replicated by some of the most popular musicians today. SOPHIE passed away suddenly in January 2021, but she retains a large and loving fanbase.

Aaron Rose Phillip (she/her)

Aaron Phillip is an Antiguan-American model, and became the first Black trans and physically disabled model to be represented by a major modeling agency. Aaron is a fierce advocate for Black, LGBTQ, and disabled people, frequently speaks out against racism and transphobia on her social media and is waging to gain more representation for trans women of color in the fashion industry. Aaron has modeled in several major high fashion campaigns, and featured in editorials in Dazed and Teen Vogue. 

Wendy Carlos (she/her)

Wendy Carlos is an American musician and composer, and the first trans person to win a Grammy Award. She is best known for her electronic music and film scores, famously composing music for several of director Stanley Kubrick’s movies, and the movie Tron (1989). Wendy is a trailblazer in the music industry for her signature blend of classical and electronic music that has made her one of the most important composers living today. Still, much of her discography is out of print, and has not been licensed for streaming.

The truth is, trans people have been here forever and will be until the end of time. As we celebrate Women’s History Month, let’s lift up those who fought for liberation and visibility for all, and forged the path for the next generation. 

Sue Cardenas-Soto is a Copywriter at The Trevor Project, the leading suicide prevention and mental health organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people. If you or someone you know is feeling hopeless or suicidal, our trained crisis counselors are available 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386 via chat, or by texting START to 678-678.

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