Self Defense: Transforming Fear into Empowerment

A Guest Post
Keagan Delaney

A little bit about me.¹

I’ve always known I was different, every trans person knows this feeling. I was fortunate enough to have parents who believed in freedom of individuality, and they had no negative things to say about my sexuality or my gender. Once we got passed the, “Is this a phase?”, part.

I was first introduced to martial arts at the age of 8, and have spent a good part of my life studying different styles both in the formal way; in dojo under the supervision of a sensei ( a martial arts teacher), and in my personal/independent study. I also studied the philosophy behind these arts, and developed a way of life that I call, a Boshido Buddhism. Living by the 7 virtues of bushido, the way of the warrior; courage, compassion, honor, honesty, duty, justice and respect, with the Zen principles of Buddhism, as much as possible.

Self-defense to me, is not just a way to get out of a dangerous situation. It instills a confidence, and ability which enables you to avoid these situations altogether. By having the knowledge to protect yourself, you exude a sense of security. Some people call it energy, some call it chi, some simply say it’s body posture, but whatever it is, it gives potential attackers the idea that you are a bad target, which is what self-defense is all about.

My workshops are heavily influenced by Krav Maga, Aikido and Jujitsu, the focus being to be as efficient as possible. They are comprised of the fastest, most effective moves of many styles, combined with highly aggressive counter attacks that neutralize your attacker as quickly as possible. We learn tactics of deflection of the opponent’s energy, and disarming those with weapons. We incorporate wrist locks and leverage techniques, as well as hand grabs, knife-hand strikes, and knife- gun take-away. In close quarter combat, the most common techniques practiced are throwing an opponent. By using their weight, and momentum to our advantage, as well as vital pressure-points, and escape techniques; to free yourself from a grapple in various situations. These techniques are effective no matter the size, or strength difference between you, and your opponent, and thus are highly effective as self-defense techniques.

Pointers to readers who are unable to get to a workshop, or another type of self-defense class. The three key things to keep in mind. 

Attackers need:

Intent: a reason they believe is justifiable to attack you². Be it hate crimes or muggings, they will have some reason. Believe it or not, this is something we have some influence over. They will target you based on two things, Risk and Reward. Is the risk of injury, or capture worth the potential or perceived reward? Ways we can control this, don’t visually display valuables; laptops, expensive bags, jewelry should not be carried openly. If you must carry it with you have it concealed. Doing this will lower the perceived reward. If you have mace, or pepper spray, or some other self-defense item, that is legal to do so, carry that in a visible location. Get a brightly colored pepper spray, and keep it in a visible, easy to reach location. This can be used as a deterrent by increasing the level or risk to your attacker. Higher risk, lower reward, makes you a bad target. 

A Means to Attack: This could be a weapon, intimidation, or perceived advantage of physical violence. This also, we have some control over. Just like increasing the risk; visible deterrent devices can lower the perceived advantage. Staying out of arms reach of persons you don’t know, or who seem threatening, can decrease the ability to attack you. Staying calm, holding your head up, making eye contact, holding a steady, even verbal tone can decrease the potential attacker’s level of intimidation. Keeping an even tone, and a neutral stance, can also help deescalate verbal confrontations. Even if your heart is beating 1000 times a minute, attackers who feel in control of the situation through intimidation will feel more confident in their success of physical violence. (This is not to say staring down every aggressive person will keep you out of conflict. But if a confrontation arises, these strategies can help ease the tension, and reach peaceful resolution.)

Opportunity: This is a place and/or time to attack you. This is where we have the most control. Along with keeping potential out of arms reach, being aware of your surroundings is the first, and most important step to keeping yourself safe. In order to be attacked, you need to be in a place that is close enough to a busy area to have been noticed, and is easier to escape in, but also secluded enough to not have many, if any witnesses. Alleyways, parking garages, parks, and parking lots are great places to ambush someone. Avoid obviously dangerous areas, these are typically alleyways with little or no lighting, high crime areas, or places where there is a lot of drinking. When parking, and while arriving or leaving at night, park as near to an entrance near you as possible, and in well lite areas. When walking at night especially alone, do not walk with headphones on, this greatly decreases your situational awareness, and makes you a very easy target. Most importantly, trust your gut. If a place feels unsafe, if a person feels dangerous, if you feel like you are being watched or followed, don’t put yourself into that situation. If you are walking and feel unsafe, call a friend, being on the phone with another human being, (even if its fake) makes you a riskier target.

My last two points, if your attacker is only after your material possessions, give them up. Entering any physical confrontation, no matter how skilled, has risk, and no material object in this world is worth dying for.

If the attacker wants your life. You have to put your human instincts to the side, and be willing to injure, and/or kill your attacker. If it’s between your life and theirs, choose survival. Many people, even if it is unconscious, are ingrained to not hurt another human being. If you hesitate, it could kill you. Practice and confidence can be the difference between you getting home safely, or not.


  1. Kegan Delaney is a trans advocate, martial arts, and self defense instructor. You can follow him on his self defense page, Disengagement & Empowerment Group, and on Twitter @dearthair_beag
  2. Trans People are often the target of hate crimes. The epidemic of trans women of color that are killed is why Nov. 20 is National Transgender Day of Remembrance.


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58% of Americans Support Transgender Military Service

By TMPlanet

According to a recent poll by Reuters ¹;  A majority of Americans believe that transgender individuals should be allowed to serve in the military.

The  poll conducted between July 26-28 suggested that the country largely disagrees with Donald Trump’s announcement this week², that he will ban transgender personnel from the armed forces.

When asked to weigh in on the debate, 58 percent of adults agreed with the statement,

“Transgender people should be allowed to serve in the military³.” Twenty-seven percent said they should not while the rest answered “don’t know.”

Democrats mostly supported military service by transgender Americans while Republicans were divided on the issue.

Among Republicans, 32 percent said transgender people should be allowed to serve, while 49 percent said they should not. Another 19 percent of Republicans said they don’t know.

Poll Conducted by Rueters

The public was also divided over the impact of banning transgender service members. Some 32 percent said it would “hurt morale” in the military while 17 percent said it would “improve morale.” Another 33 percent felt it would “have no impact” and the rest said they don’t know.

When asked about the impact on military capabilities, 14 percent said prohibiting transgender service members made the military “more capable” while 43 percent said “no impact,” 22 percent said “less capable” and the rest said they don’t know.

The president’s announcement, made in posts on his Twitter account, surprised many senior military officers and appeared to pre-empt an ongoing Pentagon review into its inclusion of transgender service members.

The United States’ top military officer, Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, said the military will not alter its current policies until it receives additional guidance from Trump’s secretary of defense.

Roger Kaikko, 61, a Trump voter near Cleveland, Ohio, who took the poll, said he disagrees with the president.

“Even the president shouldn’t be able to take rights away from some people just because he may not like them,” Kaikko said. “They’re people too. Unless they’re causing problems, they should serve just like anybody else.”

Opinions about the ban probably will not have lasting impact on the president’s believe anything, devout followers.

Jan Leighley, an expert in political behavior at American University said, “For many people, this is just a distant political issue. When compared to healthcare, immigration or the economy, the president’s stance on transgender issues “is not something that’s going to change their prior beliefs or attitudes” about Trump.


  1.  The Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll was conducted online in English across the United States. It gathered responses from 1,249 adults including 533 Democrats and 434 Republicans. It has a credibility interval, a measure of accuracy, of 3 percentage points for the entire group and 5 percentage points for Democrats and Republicans.
  2. #Notmypresident,

    President Donald Trump announced he was banning transgender people from serving in the military in a series of tweets Wednesday, July 26, 2017. (Images via Twitter)
  3. A 2014 study estimated that 15,500 trans people were currently serving in the U.S. military. The Williams Institute, a think tank at UCLA School of Law that researches gender identity, came to that figure using a 2011 survey of 6,546 transgender Americans. Around 20 percent of that survey’s respondents said they had served in the armed forces. There are currently 1.3 million active-duty personnel in the U.S. military and an additional 800,000 in reserves.
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Being Trans, Senior and Homeless

When thinking about homelessness, most people don’t think of senior citizens. We presume that older adults have Social Security, pensions and cozy little homes that have been paid off for years. That’s often not the case for Transgender people, who have spent  years struggling with health care, and discrimination in the work force and housing.

There is a large and troubling number of elderly residents of our community who do indeed live in their cars, moving from place to place to avoid neighbor complaints. Others seek out alcoves and nooks where they can stay out of the weather. Still others seek refuge at local homeless shelters.

The toughest age bracket is age 55 to 62, when many older adults feel they are too old to compete for jobs yet still too young to qualify for Social Security, is added to the already burden of discrimination based on gender identity. And while age 55 may seem young, aging on the street takes a toll. According to numerous experts, the average life expectancy for un-sheltered homeless people is 64 years. According to National Health Care for the Homeless Council, homeless people over 50 have four times the mortality rate of younger homeless people because “weathering” of un-housed people can prematurely age them by 10 to 20 years, and if that sounds awful, keep in mind those are numbers that represent the general population. For trans and other LGBTQ, it’s a human tragedy.

According to an NTDS Report:

▪ Survey participants reported very high levels of postponing medical care when sick or injured due to
discrimination (28%) or inability to afford it (48%);
▪ Respondents faced significant hurdles to accessing health care, including:
• Refusal of care: 19% of our sample reported being refused care due to their transgender or
gender non-conforming status, with even higher numbers among people of color in the survey;
• Harassment and violence in medical settings: 28% of respondents were subjected to
harassment in medical settings and 2% were victims of violence in doctor’s offices;
• Lack of provider knowledge: 50% of the sample reported having to teach their medical
providers about transgender care;
▪ Despite the barriers, the majority of survey participants have accessed some form of transitionrelated
medical care; the majority reported wanting to have surgery but have not had any surgeries yet;
▪ If medical providers were aware of the patient’s transgender status, the likelihood of that person
experiencing discrimination increased;
▪ Respondents reported over four times the national average of HIV infection, 2.64% in our sample
compared to .6% in the general population, with rates for transgender women at 3.76%, and with those
who are unemployed (4.67%) or who have engaged in sex work (15.32%) even higher;
▪ Over a quarter of the respondents misused drugs or alcohol specifically to cope with the
discrimination they faced due to their gender identity or expression;
▪ A staggering 41% of respondents reported attempting suicide compared to 1.6% of the general
population, with unemployment, low income, and sexual and physical assault raising the risk factors significantly.

One of the major factors delaying  medical treatment in our community is access to insurance, discrimination, medical professionals lacking education on trans issues, and according to this same study., in terms of preventive care, those without insurance reported delaying care due to inability to afford it much more frequently (88%) than those with private insurance (39%) or public insurance (44%). Failing to obtain preventive care is known to lead to poor long-term health outcomes.

A bipartisan group of 76 U.S. House members is calling on the White House to restore to a federal health survey for elders a question the Trump administration has struck out allowing them to identify as transgender.

In a letter dated July 21 and led by Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), chair of the LGBT Aging Issues Task Force, lawmakers call on the White House Office of Management & Budget to reinstate the question in the National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants, or NSOAAP.

“We have to ensure we are meeting the needs of the most vulnerable among us,” Deutch said in a statement. “Study after study has shown that transgender older adults face greater social isolation, food insecurity and disparate health impacts. It is cruel to remove a previously included transgender-specific demographic question and, in essence, send a message to transgender seniors that their needs are not important.”

Earlier this year, the Administration on Community Living at the Department of Health & Human Services indicated it would eliminated from the NSOAAP questions allowing LGBT elders to identify their sexual orientation and gender identity. Amid pressure from LGBT rights supporters, HHS agreed to restore the sexual orientation, but kept out a question allowing elders to identify as transgender.

Fortunately, there are programs emerging to help combat the issue of isolation in the senior trans community. Groups such as Lavender Seniors and SAGE perform outreach to elder members of the transgender community and provide a safe and welcoming place for them to socialize and find support. The reach of these programs remains limited, though, and tends to be concentrated in more progressive large cities.

It is also important that we continue to speak out for our Trans seniors that have walked the paths, we find just a little more comfortable to walk today.


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TransMusePlanet’s 5th Annual Top 20 Most Influential Trans People of 2016

 Revised and updated July 2017. TMP’s Most Influential, is an annual post nominated and voted on by our Friends of TMP followers. Go to our previous blog TransMusePlanet, to see the previous four years of listings.
Welcome to our 5th listing of our community’s most influential people: voted by our Friends of TransMusePlanet. Votes are cast by the readers of this blog, along with our followers on various social media pages.
This year I tried making it more fair. With ten times more followers on Facebook I shortened the voting time there, and extended it on TMP’s Google plus community (our more mature following), Tumblr ( our youngest following), and Twitter. The results were drastic from the previous years, and gave a wider look into the diversity of our TMP community.
Here are your votes Friends of TMP and our TMP community is definitely a sampling of what matters, and important in our greater trans community. For the first time this year, more than one Trans Youth is represented; reflecting the hottest debate of the year, the bathroom bills. Also, each year we have seen the visibility of Trans masculinity grow. This year it’s at an all time high as is reflected by the number of men nominated and voted too our list. During the first year, I literally had to ask trans male friends whom to nominate that they admire. This year there were more trans men nominated than women. Now more than ever, we need both the men and women of our community to stand united, and be visible as possible to counter the bigotry we all fear may come. A trans community united, and visible cannot be erased!
Many have shared that they would like to see more faces represented this year. Your votes were loud, and clear. We as a community face some major challenges under the new administration in 2017. It is exciting to see how far we’ve come from a limited amount of  representations among us, to a trans community that is seen, and known to touch all aspects of life. Today the list is limitless of those in our community that are inspiring a new genderation every year.
We may have some hard work for us in the coming year, but today we can celebrate the unity and diversity of what trans looks like now, in our time. Here are your Top 20 brothers and sisters that continue to inspire us, and the new genderation ahead.


Sarah McBride
There are many moments in Trans history that will be talked about for genderations to come. Moments like Marsha P. Johnson’s throwing of the first brick into the window of the Stonewall bar that started a revolution, the first publicly written SRS  story about Christine Jorgensen, the day the DSM no longer classified transgender as a mental illness, and the more appropriate renaming of ‘Gender Identity Disorder’ with ‘Gender Dysphoria’. We will remember the the first President of The United States to validate a people long ignored, and addressed our issues that led to the ban on transgender personnel serving openly in the US military. Another historical moment we will never forget is the day one of our own stood before billions around the globe and said, “My name is Sarah McBride, and I’m a proud Transgender American.”
Sarah McBride was born in Wilmington, Delaware. From early on she had a passion for political life. As a student of American University she worked on Gov. Jack Markell’s 2008 campaign, and late Attorney General Beau Biden’s (son of  V.P. Joe Biden) 2010 campaign. She then went on to become the student body President at American University. Later she gained national attention by coming out as transgender in the university’s student paper, ‘The Eagle’. She received support from both the Bidens, which lead to an internship at the White House in 2012. With that internship, she made history as the first openly transgender woman to work at the White House in any capacity.
Already a respected activist in the trans community, Sarah also became the trans community’s sweetheart when she met Andrew Cray, an equally respected trans activist. Their fairy tale romance inspired many in our community. Our hearts broke with hers, as the news spread that the newly married McBride had lost her husband to cancer. She detailed the tragic events, and the strong unwavering love they shared that lead to their wedding shortly before his death in an article for the Huffington Post; Forever and Ever: Losing my Husband at 24.

With the strength of that love, she stood in front of the world and said, “Knowing Andy left me profoundly changed, but more than anything else his passing taught me that everyday matters when it comes to building a world where every person can live their life to the fullest.” She spoke of her late husband, the accomplishments she witnessed first hand in her home state of Delaware, and the strong LGBT caucus she stood before, as she became the first transgender person to deliver a speech at a national party convention. She brought attention to America the hate, and violence lgbTQ people face, but gave hope that the future can be different. “Tomorrow, we can be respected and protected. Especially if Hillary Clinton is our President,” she said.

With that speech McBride gave hope that it gets better to millions of transgender children in the world. After that speech, every trans person in America held their heads just a little higher than before. We were included, noticed, and validated through the visibility Sarah demonstrated to the world. Her visibility, work for the state of Delaware, and her devotion to her husband inspired a genderation of trans people who marked this moment as one of the most historical of their lifetime.

“We must never be a country that says there’s only one way to love, one way to work, and only one way to live.” —Sarah McBride
7. Geraldine Roman

In her words, “I’m just another politician that happens to be transgender”. Yet, for transgender people, even beyond the borders of the Philippines, she is much, much more. She is the proof to trans people across the world, that they can be more than just their gender. As the first transgender woman to be elected to congress in the heavily Catholic populated Philippines, she made a monumental historical mark for a group around the world that longs to just be seen as a person.
After years of Philippine political figures ridiculing lgbT people, in a country where the vast majority are Catholic, it was a notable achievement to say the least. Especially considering Roman bested her closest opponent for the congressional district with 62% of the vote, a landslide.

Her platform was the socioeconomic unrest that is growing in the Philippines. With just over  a population of 100 million, 25% of the country’s population remains below the poverty line. She was aware of these challenges facing her country growing up in a political family. In fact the very seat Roman would take was previously held by her mother.

Though she did not run a campaign specifically on lgbt issues, she is a champion for all, in a country without any openly lgbt politicians. Throughout a country where the religious majority plays a powerful role, lgbT rights remain a huge priority for Roman, who said during the campaign that her family always remained supportive of her. Her father advised her to remain confidant, despite being bullied for her gender identity in school.

“Gender only becomes an issue when you try to keep it a secret. I’m so happy so why should I be ashamed.” —Geraldine Roman
14. Kael McKenzie
Kael McKenzie didn’t set out to be a historical trailblazer, yet he ended up sitting as Canada’s first transgender Judge. He was appointed to the Provincial Court of Manitoba in December 2015. The appointment helped many struggling trans people embrace their own gender identity, and gave hope to countless parents of transgender youth of what a future now looks like for their trans sons, and daughters.
As a graduate of the University of Manitoba, he has worked as a lawyer in private practice, commercial, and civil law. He co-chaired the Canadian Bar Association’s sexual orientation, and gender identity conference from 2012-2014.
A self-described tomboy as a child, he enrolled as a sea cadet at 13 to escape the feminine clothes of his youth for the same uniform worn by all sea cadets. By 19 he enlisted in the Navy during the time when it was against Canadian Armed Forces regulations to be gay or lesbian. After a marriage, and years denying his authenticity during the beginning of his law career, Kael began transitioning.
On February 12th 2016, McKenzie was sworn in, in historic fashion, live streamed throughout the country. He says he feels a responsibility to send a message that; “Transgender people can be anything they want to be, and the only barriers are ourselves.”

“My hope is that one day this is not going to be newsworthy, and that when judges are appointed who happen to be transgender, it’s going to be regular everyday occurrences, the same as any other marginalized group or equity group.” —Kael McKenzie


2. Coy Mathis
From the time Coy was one and a half years old she loved nothing more than playing dress up. Coy is one of four siblings, and child of Karthryn and Jeremy Mathis. Coy’s fascination with all things pink and fluffy was assumed to be the harmless play of a toddler, whose mind was yet untainted by the world of the gender binary. The Mathis family assumed what most parents of trans kids think in the beginning, it’s just a phase. Until one night in 2010, while tucking little Coy into bed, she asked her mother, “When am I going to get my girl parts?”
Now began the journey that would lead the Mathis family to make a decision to be apart of a radical social experiment.  The choice to listen to the heartache of your child, or follow the strict gender social constructs their daughter seemed destined to collide with. A collision course with their local school district placed Coy in the center of the transgender movement as our youngest icon. If the transgender movement is the final frontier for lgbT, then our trans youth represent its farthest outpost.

Coy and her family joined a growing group of families no longer willing to sacrifice the safety, mental stability, or the life of their children by preventing them to live authentically as themselves. Yet, as the parents of transgender children,  they joined in the struggle with every trans person against the bigotry that awaits us all. That bigotry would rear its ugly head state after state this year flooding bathroom bills from grade schools, to adult work environments.

Many who felt angered by the loss from the fight of marriage equality, redirected their bigotry to justify that hate towards trans youth. Even now with plans for an upcoming film, ‘Growing up Coy‘,  that has led her onto the cover of the National Geographic, her family has experienced a tsunami of hate, and bullying. The film which will chronicle the Mathis family life before, during, and after the lawsuit recently premiered in New York.  The director of the film, Eric Juhola says of Coy, “Coy is just a little girl who wants to be like all the other little girls, and do everything else that any other little girl would want to do, including using the girls bathroom.”

“She doesn’t want to have to explain who she is, and talk about how she’s different. She just wants to be.” —Kathryn Mathis, Mother of Coy Mathis 

6. Gavin Grimm

One day at Gloucester High School as school bells were ringing, girls chatting and giggling at handsome boys passing, and with teachers screaming “No running in the halls”, a young man was simply needing to go to the bathroom. When young Gavin Grimm needed to pee, the world stopped, and nearly fell over the edge of the flat planet they still believed in.

During his sophomore year the young teenager began quietly reintroducing himself as a boy. Grimm had previously men’s bathrooms in restaurants, stores, and at the nearby amusement park because, well he was a boy. He looked like a boy,  and so he naturally walked into the boy’s bathroom at his high school in 2014. That swinging of a stall, would led to an acrimonious public debate over bathroom usage.

The debate that started in this sleepy town grew, in and out of court, and all the way to the Supreme Court. It created a media storm, and social media frenzy. The ACLU, and the entire trans community rallied behind Gavin, creating a new slogan,’I Stand With Gavin’. That slogan, would be later adapted for all trans people in the struggle to use the restroom, and became ‘I’ll stand With You.’

Initially, the Grimm’s sued the school board, stating the policy violated his civil rights. Next, the case reached the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, which ruled Grimm’s suit could continue. The court deferred to the Obama administration’s position that barring transgender students from bathrooms is a violation of Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination in public schools. A lower court ordered the school board to allow Grimm to use the boy’s bathroom while the case proceeded, but the school board appealed to the Supreme Court, which stayed the order; meaning the bathroom policy will remain in effect until the Supreme Court decides the case in 2017, right around the time Grimm will graduate from high school.

This case placed a reluctant teen into the national spotlight, and led the bathroom debates to the Supreme Court. It has also made an advocate of young Gavin Grimm.

“I’m nothing particularly threatening or extraordinary, I’m just another 17-year-old kid. I have 17-year-old fears, and worries, and I have 17-year-old motivations, which is just to get out of high school, and have fun with my friends and family. There’s just nothing about me that is predatory or dangerous,or warrants the kind of response I got from my local community.”—Gavin Grimm

9. Nicole Maines
Nicole Maines, is an advocate, and actress that has felt the devastating consequences of school boards forcing her into a restroom not in accordance with her gender identity.

Recently this year she appeared in the t.v. series Royal Pains, and the HBO documentary, ‘The Trans List‘. Maines has also become an advocate of trans youth after her experiences in a Main school district during  her 5th grade year.

Her family filed a discrimination lawsuit and in 2014, she made history when Maine’s Supreme Court ruled that officials from the public school violated anti-discrimination law, by not allowing her to  use the girl’s restroom. It was the first time that a state court ruled it unlawful to deny transgender students access to the bathroom of the gender they identify. The news catapulted Nicole into the spotlight, and as an outspoken trans activist today.

“Acceptance at home is fundamental yes, but frankly it’s just not enough. Trans youth, like most young people, spend the majority of their time at school. If you spent Mon-Fri, from 8-3, being told that you weren’t okay, that you were wrong, how are you meant to think otherwise?”—Nicole Maines


3. Chris Moiser
Chris Mosier took a giant leap for transgender athletes, and for trans men everywhere, when he became the first trans member of Team USA. When the IOC, and the governing bodies solidified their current regulations on transgender athlete eligibility in January, the frustration, the inequality, and the fears Mosier had faced finally felt redeemed.

Mosier has won several awards in competing, and has become an advocate for trans athletes founding, ‘‘; a resource for students, athletes, coaches, and administrators to find information about trans inclusion in athletics at various levels of play. He is also the executive director of ‘GO! Athletes‘, a non-profit safe place for former lgbTQ athletes.


Already appearing in several major news outlets this year, he also became the first openly transgender athlete to be featured in the ‘Body Issue’ of ESPN Magazine. He also became the first trans athlete to appear in a Nike ad, (a trans inclusive corporation).

“It’s a very different experience when you put the person before the pronoun.”—Chris Mosier 
4. Kortney Ryan Ziegler

You can’t say trans activist without mentioning the name, Kortney Ryan Ziegler. He writes the script for advocacy and awareness of trans masculine visibility. An award-winning visual artist, film maker, writer, blogger, there isn’t a medium he doesn’t or hasn’t influenced. If you are thankful that the awareness of trans men of color has improved over the past few years, you’d do best to start by looking at the work of this man.

Growing up in the streets of Compton, raised by a single mother, he was as so many young black children, bombarded by images in the media that depicted his image as less than. It set the stage for a man who will be apart of changing that distorted view of humanity.
He started by earning a PhD at Northwestern University, where he began his transition. In 2008 he created one of the most outstanding works for, and about trans men of color ‘STILL BLACK: A Portrait of a Black Trans Man, exploring the life of an FtM transitioning in the African American community.
In 2013 Ziegler launched Trans*H4ck, an organizational hub for trans people collaborating on technical projects. Through his organizations, developers, programmers, designers, entrepreneurs, and community members come together to brainstorm new ideas, and create technological advanced digital tools to better the trans community. He continues as award-winning writer, and blogger on issues facing trans men of color, and uniting all the trans community through his efforts.
“I think my identity has afforded me a different way to approach film because I want to see people who share similar life experience as me on the big screen. This urge is what pushes me and has proven to be the invaluable aspect of my career.”—Kortney Ryan Ziegler

11. Benjamin Melzer

Men’s Health Magazine began a competition for the cover in several countries. In the early part of 2016, it would be Benjamin Melzer, who landed the coveted title in European’s Men’s Health Edition. He quickly became a fitness model throughout Europe.
The German native began transitioning at 18. Two years later he asked his mother to rename him, as he believed in the parents choice. She named him Benjamin.
Being recognized by the magazine he read for years, it lead him to become and advocate for other transgender people. He would join Jake Graf, and other well-known European trans activist in the viral video ‘What Trans Looks Like: Transgender Men & Women Share Stories‘. With this year’s success his modeling career continues to grow. He joins fellow Dutch trans model Loiza Lamers in a recent ad for Italian label ‘Diesel’, as a fashion model.
“I really hope that I can change attitudes. When you are born this way, you have no choice. So many people are hiding who they truly are, so I really wanted to give the trans community visibility. Show that we’re just normal people.”—Benjamin Melzer
15. Jazz Jennings
With permanent spot on TMP’s most influential list for the past five years, she remains the trans community’s lil favorite mermaid. Thou, little Jazz is now growing up before all our eyes, on TLC’s hit reality show, ‘I Am Jazz,” she remains that lil girl that gives hope to so many, young and old.
Now a veteran spokesperson, and advocate within the community, she’s now a famous television personality. Yet, America is reminded watching her show, that she is just another girl with teenager troubles. The show is truly an inspiring example of a families love, and togetherness. From her big sis with the advice, to her protective twin brothers. The show is a heartwarming look at what supportive love in a family can do, to rise above any obstacle.
At six years old, Jennings and her family began appearing on television to speak about the challenges of growing up transgender. After founding Trans Kids Purple Rainbow Foundation, connecting trans kids and parents from around the world, she began advocating, and writing on trans issues. Earlier this year she published a memoir, ‘Being Jazz: My Life As a Transgender Teenager.’ Most recently Microsoft (a trans inclusive corporation), created a holiday ad featuring the now well known teen activist, along with a variety of artist, activist, and entrepreneurs using Microsoft Surface Studio to express their message of peace, love and inclusion.

“I don’t focus too much on politics. I’m busy with school, and being a kid. But my mom always says she’s a one issue voter. All she cares about is if they’re going to support the lgbTQ community or not.”—Jazz Jennings


5. Jen Richards 
As the co-founder and director of Trans 100, and the creator of ‘We Happy Trans‘, a website dedicating to celebrating positive transgender experiences that has received national media attention, she is by far one of the more well-known, and respected advocates. Yet, her passion and work is in film, which also in many ways is a continued, extension of her advocacy work for trans people.

As a writer, producer, and actress her work includes the critical acclaimed ‘Her Story‘, recently this year nominated for an Emmy. The web series, in its first season is considered one of the most important pieces of media created by, with and for transgender women. The series centers around a lesser discussed topic in media, trans women and relationships. It is a vital important work to relay through media, the relationship, and desire for love that trans women experience as other women do.

With the commercial success of Netflix’s ‘Transparent‘, and ‘The Danish Girl’, films involving transgender people are in the mainstream media consciousness. Sadly, most of the stories are told, written, and portrayed by cis-gender actors. When ‘Her Story’ premiered, it broke through many of those barriers that several in the community felt needed to be. A trans story, about trans people, portrayed by trans people.

Most recently, Richards has added to her credits, a re-curing role on CMT’s hit show, Nashville.

“My hope is that ‘Her Story’ inspires other trans creators to keep telling their stories, and keep telling them better and more insistently, and that it gets some people inside Hollywood to look for stories in places they haven’t before.” —Jen Richards
8. Angelica Ross
Another member, and fellow co-star of the Emmy nominated series ‘Her Story’, is Angelica Ross. Also, another actress/singer who maybe known more for their outstanding advocacy, and contributions to trans society. This past year, Miss Ross accepted the HRC visibility award. HRC has made efforts in the recent year, to bridge the rift with the trans community. As a trans woman of color, a business woman who transformed her life from showgirl to the CEO of Miss Ross Inc., and Trans Social Enterprise, this award was long overdue for the work Angelica Ross has done on behalf of the lgbT community.
Angelica left home at 17 to join the Navy, and after a near death experience in Japan, she gain the purpose to live her true authentic life. By 19 she was well into transitioning, and began modeling in stealth mode. She began turning down work that was too stressful, and dysphoric for her. She went on to other careers; a showgirl, real estate, beauty school, until founding Trans Tech Enterprise, a training and apprenticeship academy for transgender people with technological skills.
Miss Ross, is forever growing as an artist, actress, advocate, and continues to inspire all trans people, but especially trans women of color who have limited resources, to improve our lives.
“I knew members of my community could be their own saviors, they only needed the opportunity. My mission is to prove that everyone has the right to peruse their dreams.” —Angelica Ross

12. Laverne Cox
Actress, advocate, artist, and a champion to trans people around the globe. Laverne Cox has done more to change the minds of the entertainment business than any has done before her. Yet, her humility, and love for the trans community would have her to be the first to say, she stands on the shoulders of giants.

Cox, remains best known for her role as Sophia, in the hit Netflix series, ‘Orange is the New Black’. A series, a role, and actress that changed the game, but this year we saw Lavern Cox expand her repertoire as spokesperson in the media for the trans community, and as an actress. With several television projects this year, the most notable was as Dr. Frank-N-Furter, in a t.v. remake of ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do The Time Warp Again’. She is also well underway in a new project filming for a release in 2017, ‘The Freak’, playing the role of Felica.

Laverne Cox has experienced many first, but one of the biggest, and historical, in 2016 was being the latest celebrity, and the first trans woman to be featured in wax, at Madame Tussaud’s. She continues to be a leading trailblazer, and outspoken advocate for trans rights, and trans people of color. In May, Cox was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from The New School, in New York City, for her progressive work in the fight for gender identity.
“Believing you are unworthy of love and belonging, that who you are authentically is a sin or is wrong, is deadly. Who you are is beautiful, and amazing!” —Laverne Cox
13. Jake Graf
Growing up trans in London, Jake Graf found escape in the world of imagination. This imagination grew, and lead him into a career in film. His first film as writer, director, and producer in X-Why, landed him several awards for short films, including being featured in the prestigious Five Films for Freedom project with the British Film Council.
In 2015, his hit short film ‘Brace’, earned him international fame, and became a gueer film festival favorite, gaining him the title of the Cary Grant of trans actors. Earlier this year he entered the role as advocate for trans people, and especially trans men, by creating the viral video for trans day of visibility with several other well-known European trans personalities.
He continues to make headlines, with partner, and British Army Captain Heather Winterbourne, as they were named UK’s Pride Power List, as lgbT mover’s and shakers to know. They are also well-recognized as the trans power couple of Great Britain.
“Get yourself out there and make that difference, as trans men are finally starting to emerge from all walks of life. It is exciting to be able to stand proud and hopefully show the next generation that it is possible to be trans, and happy.”—Jake Graf
16. Rhys Ernst & Zackary Drucker
We can’t mention trans power couples without mentioning one of the most long-lasting, and influential trans collaborative team in America, the entertainment business, and in art: Rhys Ernst, and Zackary Drucker.
The collaborative team moved from New York to Los Angeles, and both begun transition together at 25. They burst onto the media scene with their highly discussed, and award-winning book, ‘Relationship’, based on the photographic series that premiered in 2014 at the Whitney Biennial. It documented their six-year relationship, and transitions together.
While Zackary Drucker became a fixture on the hit series ‘I Am Cait’, both remained a powerful, influential collaborative team in the media. As producers, and Emmy winners of the hit Netflix series ‘Transparent’, they pushed, and continue to influence Hollywood as a whole, to include trans artistic expressions in film.
“Our ethos is one of uncompromised representation. The intersection of trans representation, with the fight for trans equality is our guiding principle, and we’re at the beginning of a long game that’s linked to a timely, and larger conversation about diversity in media, and in labor. If trans stories are important for all people, exemplifying a journey to live authentically, then trans employment in an industry like Hollywood becomes a symbol of possibility for anyone who’s been historically excluded.”—Rhys Ernst and Zackary Drucker
19. Lucas Charlie Rose
Lucas Charlie Rose, is a well known You Tube Vlogger and musician , chronicling his transition, and love of hip hop. A trans-masculine hip hop artist that is not only reshaping the next genderation of hip hop, but forging together those voices in music often overlooked.  Born in Paris, he later earned a Bachelors of Fine Arts Degree in Film production from Concordia University’s Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. He’s been featured over  the past year in several lgbtq media outlets such as: FTM Magazine, Trans-Cafe, Out Front Online, and Portugal’s LGBThoje.
 Last year, with he collaborated with FTM Magazine, and release the trans favorite song ‘This is What Trans Looks Like.’ Earlier this year he raised eyebrows with the ingenious, first ever, collaboration CD, of several trans-only hip-hop artist such as; Sidney Chase, Nicki Andro, Neeko Freeman, Jiji Parker, King Giselle, and many more. The first ever such project, that spoke volumes to the unity of the trans hip-hop music scene.

He made headlines also this year in a recreated Calvin Klein ad to promote trans awareness of trans people of color who don’t feel represented by the popular brand. He also has become an advocate, who challenges the status quo of hip hop to acknowledge the contributions of trans people. He currently is playing various venues in the north-east.

“Hip hop in itself is revolutionary, and if anybody belongs in hip hop it’s us: black trans people.”—Lucas Charlie Rose


10.Laith Ashley
Ok ladies, and some of you guys, I hear ya, but he is happily taken by co-star, and fellow model bombshell Arisce Wanzer. The couple, along with the rest of the full cast of trans models, are heating up television across the country, with Oxygen’s new hit series, ‘Strut’. The series, which has Whoopi Goldberg as executive producer says, “People tend to focus on the stereotype instead of the person. This is a unique opportunity to spend time with real people who are struggling with the same challenges we all face as we make our way through the world.

By now if you are trans, and you haven’t heard of Laith Ashley,
then where are you hiding child? While there has been a slew of trans masculine representation this year, it is without a doubt the presence of Laith Ashley on national television that has America realizing, if they hadn’t already, that the trans man has arrived.

The 26-year-old started transition less than 3 years ago, and immediately appeared in a Barney’s ad, along with several well-known trans personalities. The New York native quickly became a favorite to follow on social media, (and in my best RuPaul  ‘You Better Work’ voice), his modeling career took off. He has been featured in shows for New York Fashion Week for Adrian Alicea, and Gypsy Sport. He also has posed for Calvin Klein.
Laith’s presence, and the creation of the show Strut, comes amid a call to the modeling industry for more representation of the large number of trans models working, who are denied those coveted go sees gigs with national brands. Though many in our community see this as one field that has a great deal of trans representation, those trans models are often limited to the work they receive. While our community knows of them, few have broken the barrier into the mainstream, even fewer of those are men, which makes Laith’s role in this, pivotal for trans masculine representation.
“I want to show everyone that yes I am trans, but it’s not all that I am. The same goes for all trans people. Everyone’s transition is their own; my story, my transition, my identity is my own. Everyone’s identity, trans or not, is their own. Every trans person does not feel that they were trans from a  young age, every trans does not feel they were born into the wrong body. It does not however, invalidate their feeling or their journey. With Cait for example, people say, ‘I’m not going to call her Caitlyn, I’ll call her Bruce.’ To me, that’s the most disrespectful thing you can do.” —Laith Ashley
17. Amiyah Scott
One of trans society’s most talked about starlet’s is now a star in her own right. In fact the very show that will move her into the stratosphere not seen by any trans actress thus far, is called ‘Star’. Amiyah Scott is a model, reality tv personality, and has been an aspiring actress that held out for a role that gave her respect. As we know, good things come to those who wait, and the biggest role to date for a trans actress came her way.
What makes this show historic for a trans actress, is that it’s produced by award-winning producer Lee Daniels, the creator of the hit series ‘Empire’ which has made mega stars of Taraji Henson, and includes Terrance Howard, and Gabourey Sidibe, both Academy Award Nominees. He also was the Producer of ‘Monster’s Ball’, the film that would place Hallie Berry as the first black woman to win an Oscar in a leading actress role, ever.
Before she landed her recent dream job, Scott worked as a make-up artist, and beauty consultant in Atlanta GA. It was there she would meet, and audition for that big break. News broke earlier in the year that she would be a cast member on the Atlanta Housewives franchise, on Bravo. It has been reported that the producers of the show, wanted a spectacle; a bitchy trans woman. After one cameo, Scott never returned.
As trans people, we are forever fighting to be treated, and represented with the dignity we deserve. Like many trans actors, and people around the world, Scott refuses to degrade herself, and in the process has become an advocate for trans actors, and actresses who are trying to change how Hollywood views us, represent, and depict us.
“I’m in my twenties, and when this opportunity was BROUGHT to me, it was no quarantees, and I was cool with that, but I wasn’t going to exploit myself or act out of character for it…I honestly saw a chance to help change the perspective of MY community, but I wanted to maintain my dignity. WE ARE HERE AND WE DEMAND RESPECT.” —Amiyah Scott
18. Kris Hayashi
Last year Kris Hayashi took over as Executive Director at Transgender Law Center, one of the largest organizations in the country advancing the rights of transgender, and gender non-conforming people. The Transgender Law Center works to change law, policy, and attitudes so that all people can live safely, authentically, and free from discrimination regardless of their gender identity, or expression. Can an advocate be a trend setter? It has under Kris Hayashi.
This year Levi Strauss & Co., named him one of their Pioneers in Justice 2020: chosen leaders of next generation social justice. As a transgender person of color, Hayashi, has over 20 years of social justice on behalf of transgender, and non-conforming people. Under his direction, Transgender Law Center stands poised along other large lgbtq organizations to combat discrimination.
At 23, Kris worked with (YUCA), Youth United for Community Action in California. YUCA, is a grassroots organization, ran by young people of color as a safe space to empower themselves, and work on environmental, and social issues. He is inspiring a new generation of trans advocates to be heard.
This year many advocates followed his moves, as he stood firm against Trump’s (Not My President), running mate, Mike Pence. In Sept., Transgender Law Center joined MALDEF, in filing a lawsuit, on behalf of a 31-year-old trans man in Marion County Indiana, against Mike Pence, Attorney General of Indiana, and the Clerk of Court of Marion County.
The plaintiff, was born in Mexico but came to the U.S., at age 6, and has since been granted asylum in the Hoosier State. While all his official documentation, and identification lists him as male, he is currently stuck with his original birth name because of a 2010 Indiana law that requires American citizenship for a name change.
“The vice-presidential nominee, and governor of Indiana endorses a law that’s making life dangerous for LGBT people in his state. It must be overturned,” said Kris Hayashi.
“There should be many, many spokespersons, people of color, transgender men, gender-nonconforming people, who really raise up the day-to-day realities for the majority of the transgender community. The larger the picture of our community, the stronger it is.”—Kris Hayashi


Kylar Broadus is by far one of the leading activist today, that has been fighting in the trenches for years to advance transgender rights.
As Senior public policy counsel with the National LGBTQ Task Force, and the director of the organization’s Transgender Civil Rights Project. In 2012, he made history as the first openly transgender p erson to testify before the U.S. Senate, speaking in support of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).

In 2010, he founded the Trans People of Color Coalition (TPOCC), the only national civil rights organization dedicated to the needs of trans people of color. Through this organization, he has gathered advocates from across the nation, and over the years have brought the attention, of the needs, and problems facing trans people of color. It is without question, the efforts of TPOCC, that the visibility of trans people of various colors, is greater now than ever before.

He has published countless articles, and chapters in publications: ‘Bodies Trans Selves; A Resource for the Transgender Community’, ‘Transgender Family Law: A Guide to Effective Advocacy’, and the Evolution of Employment Discrimination Protection for Transgender People,” the later being one of the influences of ENDA.

Recipient of the National LGBTQ Task Force’s ‘Sue J. Hyde’ Award, for Longevity in the Movement, and the Pioneer Award, at the TransFaith in Color Conference. One of the first trans people to be recognized in the annual OUT 100 list, in 2013.

“One of the major obstacles to overcoming this hate, and violence would be economic stability and empowerment of the trans community. Trans people, particularly communities of color, make less than $10,000 per year if employed, according to “injustice at Every Turn.” We know that joblessness leads to homelessness, poor health care and being vulnerable on the streets. We are not unemployed because we are lazy, unskilled, unintelligent, or don’t want to work. It is because society does not deem us worthy of even having a job.” —Kylar Broadus
Thank you Friends of TMP, for the 967 votes that were cast throughout this blog, and our social media pages. Many have tried imitating our list, or out right copied it, but again as we will see over the next few weeks,  with disastrous results. They will say, as we do, it’s our readers choice, let the apples fall where they may. That makes me even more proud of our Friends of TMP. TMP is about unity within our community. Sharing the common ground of being Trans, and just like our friends of TMP, your votes reflect that diversity in our community. Keep shining, keep living your truth, and always know, Trans Is Beautiful!


Nya Cruz, Reality Star on Fuse’s Hit Series ‘Transcendent
 Viktor Belmont, Adult Entertainer
 Mya Taylor, Actress
 Liam Klenk, Author
Kelly Mantle, Reality personality/Actress/Actor
 Neo L. Sandja, Author/Advocate
 Shea Diamond, Singer/Song Writer

We dedicate, and remember our 1,700 Kings & Queens who have lost their lives in the battle to live their authentic life. Each of these outstanding trans role models, along with every trans person that are on a quest to live life as their truest self, salute and honor you.
We say thank you for the light that you shown to the world when you were here, and igniting the flame of determination that will be carried in the hearts of every trans person on earth.
We will forever speak your name, and let it not be in vain.


TMP’s Annual Top 20 Most Influential Trans People of 2015


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