British/New Zealander stage and screen writer and cult film actor Richard O’Brien (the stage name of Richard Timothy Smith) was the mastermind behind The Rocky Horror Show, a queer gothic musical comedy that has generated a robust, ritualized midnight screening tradition. (He also originated the role of Riff Raff and played him in the film adaptation.) O’Brien’s career has also extended into eccentric television program hosting, including the popular UK game show The Crystal Maze, for which he was selected because he fit the show’s “Dungeons and Dragons” vibe.
Although O’Brien was assigned male at birth and continues to use male pronouns, he identifies as “70% male, 30% female,” and uses the term transgender to refer to himself.
Stu Rasmussen, the first transgender mayor in the United States, had been elected in the small town of Silverton, Oregon, twice before transitioning, and then again after. A movie theater owner, former cable installer, and computer expert, Rasmussen ran on a fiscally conservative, locally-focused platform. When protestors appeared from out of state the town’s residents arranged a counter-protest in which they crossdressed out of solidarity. To raise money for the city Rasmussen has sold selections from his prodigious shoe collection. A musical based on his life (and election) was produced in Seattle and included in the New York Festival of New Musicals.
Rasmussen’s personal website is available here and his Facebook page is here.
Dubbed the “Queen of Swords,” Fallon Fox, the first openly transgender fighter in Mixed Martial Arts history, has been coping with controversy for almost as long as she’s been competing. When she came out after her second professional fight there was a question of whether she had been licensed properly; though the issue of her inclusion was later resolved with the full support of the UFC, various fighters have since refused to compete with her or complained following losses. Outside of her matches Fox has been featured in a documentary about LGBT athletes and been inducted into the Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame.
Fox’s personal website can be found here; her Facebook page can be found here; and her Twitter page is available here.
Transgender and intersex advocate Mauro Cabral has become one of Argentina’s experts. One of the founding directors of GATE (Global Action for Trans* Equality), Cabral began researching the ethics behind intersex surgeries after his own traumatic experiences, which he describes as “a violation that lasted eight years.” He has spoken in front of the United Nations, the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights, and the Philadelphia Trans Health Conference, among others, and edited Interdicciones – Escrituras de la Intersexualidad en Castellano (Bans: Scriptures of Intersexuality in Castilian). Perhaps most impressively he was among the 29 signatories of the Yogyakarta Principles, a list of internationally-compiled principles related to the human rights of sexual and gender minorities.
Cabral’s Facebook page is available here.
No quote can summarize activist, sex worker, performer, and politician Jamie Lee Hamilton more elegantly than this excerpt from The Walrus profile of her: “She became a Native Princess, a Ms. Gay Vancouver, and, inevitably, an honorary member of the travelling cast of A Chorus Line.” For over three decades she pushed for Canadian laws targeting sex workers to be overturned using a mixture of dramatic tactics and community building; she even became Canada’s first trans person to run for public office and nearly won a seat. She also sits on the board of directors for the Greater Vancouver Native Cultural Society, an aboriginal advocacy group.
Hamilton’s Twitter feed is available here; her Facebook page is here.
Screenwriter, lyricist, and activist Gazal Dhaliwal is an outspoken member of India’s increasingly public transgender community. She created a documentary while in film school, To be…Me, which features interviews with fellow trans people and summarizes current medical and legal perspectives. She has appeared in blogs, on the TV series My Big Decision, and with her parents on a high-profile talk show‘s episode on “alternative sexualities” (available for viewing here). In her appearances she stresses her post-transition happiness and the variety of gender roles that trans people are drawn to.
Dhaliwal’s Facebook page can be found here; her Twitter feed, here; and her blog (not updated since 2010), here.
American jazz and swing musician William Lee “Billy” Tipton toured for decades with various bands (including his own, the Billy Tipton Trio) before settling down in Spokane, Washington, to work for a talent agency and play a steady stream of local gigs. Although he was never a big name in music circles, he recorded two respectable albums and made a successful career out of playing the piano and saxophone, all while prioritizing a healthy family life. Greater recognition came after his death when a paramedic team revealed that he had been assigned female at birth and the news hit the headlines, prompting country-wide amateur speculation on the alleged tragedy of a woman forced to live as a man in order to survive in the music industry (or how Tipton might have been crossdressing for the thrill of it). Given Tipton’s lifelong insistence at presenting as male, the interpretation that he was a happy and successful trans man appears more likely.