LGBTQ+ Pride Month

People Use #TransIsBeautiful This Pride Month To Celebrate Their Authentic Self

"That is why we say #TransIsBeautiful; we are ongoing and worth knowing."

Back in 2015, during an interview with Cosmopolitan, actress and activist Laverne Cox revealed that, in response to transphobia and harassment, she created the #TransIsBeautiful hashtag in an effort to boost awareness and acceptance for the trans community. Because transgender individuals often face unwarranted levels of discrimination, Cox wanted to establish an outlet for those who don't fit with society's preconceived notions of gender identity to celebrate their beauty and strength.

"I started the hashtag #TransIsBeautiful because I was doing a lecture and talking about this period in my life when I was being mis-gendered on the street a lot," Cox told Cosmopolitan. "I was experiencing lots of harassment — being called a man a lot on the street — and that still happens actually. Early in my transition, I would feel like a failure when that would happen. I would be like, "What am I doing wrong?" I was in this place where I finally accepted my womanhood and then the world wasn't seeing that; they were calling me a man."

"I started looking at all these trans folks who have things about them that are noticeably trans and talking to different trans women who I thought were absolutely stunning who were still being called a man on the street. [I thought], "If this beautiful girl's being called a man, like, something's off." We live in a culture that does not celebrate trans beauty," Cox added. 

"Then, during a lecture, I was like, "Let's tweet and Instagram #TransIsBeautiful as a way to celebrate all those things about us that make us uniquely who we are." At the end of the day, it's not just for trans people. There are all these things that even people who don't identify as trans don't accept about themelves. For a lot of guys it might be being feminine. For women, it might be being masculine. #TransIsBeautiful is for everyone to embrace all of those things that make us uniquely ourselves."

Yet, while the hashtag never faded, the trans community has taken to Twitter in full force to share their #TransIsBeautiful moments in celebration of LGBTQ+ Pride Month this year.

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As Lexie Bean writes for Teen Vogue, "#TransIsBeautiful is one of the most used trans-related hashtags on social media. For many of us, beauty means completion, passing as a man or woman worth knowing. As trans people, we often correlate safety with being easier for other people to understand, easier to hold. We have to call ourselves "beautiful" before anyone else calls us something else."

For many throughout the trans community, embracing authenticity isn't easy. Bean notes that, according to a 2015 survey from the National Center for Transgender Equality, 47 percent of trans and nonbinary people experience sexual assault at some point in their lifetimes. But, as the editor of Written on the Body, an anthology full of letters that fellow trans and nonbinary sexual assault and domestic violence survivors wrote to their body parts, Bean's giving these victims the opportunity to share their stories of survival in an effort to shine light on the battles trans individuals face daily.

"I made the anthology to allow myself and others to feel real, bringing together people who are in totally different places within identity and healing," Bean writes. "I made it to offer a reminder that we carry trauma in our hair, fingertips, and all the other places we decorate, just as much as we do in our assumed genitals. I made it to remind myself that one day I can sign a letter to my back with love, and on the next page there is patience, and on the next page there is fear, and they can all exist within the same body and the same body of work."

"No matter where you are, your sharing is valuable because it's yours," Bean adds. "That is why we say #TransIsBeautiful; we are ongoing and worth knowing."

Cox reinforces the mission behind the #TransIsBeautiful hashtag during her recent interview for the Gay Pride issue of Gay Times: "We still need to be empowering trans folk to think beyond the binary and to embrace ourselves no matter how we look or where we are in our transition. I think there's still these cis-normative beauty standards that we hold trans people up against and next to, and that's deeply problematic. I started the #TransIsBeautiful hashtag to empower trans folk to love all the things that make us uniquely and beautifully trans. It's not about embracing cis-normative or white supremacist beauty standards, but about embracing what you got going on."

People come in countless shapes and sizes. And, while our society has yet to fully appreciate and accept those labeled "different" according to the cis-normative beauty standards Cox mentions, this type of public thread empowers the trans community to express themselves, loud and proud, because what makes us different does, in fact, make us beautiful.

Cover image via Ysbrand Cosijn / Shutterstock

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