Caitlyn Jenner shocked the world when she transitioned to transgendered reality star after years of living as Olympics star Bruce Jenner. As a result, the former Bruce Jenner has become the often-controversial face of the transgendered movement. The world of showbiz, however, has a surprisingly long history of truly transgendered celebrities…
GIVEN NAME: RODERICK COX / TRANSGENDER NAME: LAVERNE COX This new face has rivaled Caitlyn Jenner as Hollywood’s hottest transsexual star — although she had to endure being casted as transsexual hookers when she first left her Alabama home to become an actress in NYC. Her talent shone through, however, and Laverne won critical acclaim in the women’s prison series “Orange is the New Black.” She’s since broken plenty of boundaries as an openly transgender actress, while remaining coy about her age and the extent of her surgery.
GIVEN NAME: GEORGE JAMIESON / TRANSGENDER NAME: APRIL ASHLEY She may have been the first gender-bender to hit the big screen after April went from performing in Parisian transvestite revues to a bit part with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby in 1962’s “The Road to Hong Kong.” She revealed that she’d had sexual reassignment surgery in 1960 after a London paper exposed her secret just as she was finding success as a model. Ashley still managed to maintain a career, and is now celebrated as a transgender pioneer.
GIVEN NAME: TERRENCE CARSON/ TRANSGENDER NAME: T.C. CARSON This female impersonator won over fans like Lucille Ball while paying tribute to divas like Bette Davis and Katharine Hepburn in her stage show— and later shocked viewers of “The Alfred Hitchcock Hour” in a classic 1965 episode where he played a male serial killer (at right) masquerading as a nurse. He was used for similar shock effects on “The Wild Wild West” and The Monkees’ movie “Head” before dying in 1971 at the age of 50. T.C. was married and officially straight, but insiders later reported he preferred living as a woman, and even advertised that he entertained “gayly” towards the end of his career.
GIVEN NAME: DON SEYMOUR McLEAN / TRANSGENDER NAME: LORI SHANNON Audiences of the ’70s were won over by this pioneering out-and-proud drag queen, whose brief career included three classic episodes of “All in the Family.” She first appeared in 1975’s “Archie the Hero,” with an embarrassed Archie Bunker learning he’d performed CPR on a crossdresser. Lori returned as “Beverly LaSalle” for two more episodes, including a 1977 episode where her character was the victim of a fatal hate crime. Lori herself would die tragically young at age 45 in 1984.
GIVEN NAME: BARRY COSSEY / TRANSGENDER NAME: CAROLINE COSSEY The first transsexual Bond Girl was born in Britain as a male, and began working in fashion as “Tula” after having transgender surgery in 1974. A London paper exposed her secret after she became a regular model on a popular game show in 1978. The scandal briefly derailed her career, and she was exposed again after landing a role in the 1981 James Bond film “For Your Eyes Only.” This time, however, Tula embraced her identity — and later became Playboy‘s first transsexual model in 1991. Today, she’s retired and living in a suburb outside Atlanta, Ga.
GIVEN NAME: CHASTITY BONO / TRANSGENDER NAME: CHAZ BONO The cute blonde daughter of Cher and Sonny Bono grew up in the spotlight with regular turns on “The Sonny and Cher Show” during the ’70s. Cher proudly stood by her daughter as she came out as a lesbian in 1998. The diva was then at her new son’s side as Chastity announced, “I was never a lesbian” — and began gender reassignment surgery to become a male. Since then, he’s worked steadily in L.A. theater, and guested on “Dancing with the Stars” and “Celebrity Fit Club.”
GIVEN NAME: LARRY & ANDY WACHOWSKI / TRANSGENDER NAME: LANA & LILLY WACHOWSKI Hollywood’s hottest celebrity directorswere billed as The Wachowski Brothers while scoring with the success of 1999’s “The Matrix.” Larry Wachowski (at right) became reclusive as he was rumored to have started transitioning after his 2002 divorce, before officially making her debut as “Lana” in 2010. Andy (at left) was equally secretive before finally revealing in 2016 that he had transitioned to “Lilly,” while remaining married to her wife.
GIVEN NAME: ARMAND LEPORE / TRANSGENDER NAME: AMANDA LEPORE This plastic-surgery fan is a controversial figure as a New York City nightlife figure, with even gay-rights advocates complaining that she’s been exploited by fashion designers as their “muse.” That hasn’t kept Amanda (born as “Armand”) away from the spotlight, including an obligatory “Sex and the City” cameo in 2003.
GIVEN NAME: ROBERT ARQUETTE / TRANSGENDER NAME: ALEXIS ARQUETTE He made his screen debut as a crossdresser in 1989’s “Last Exit to Brooklyn,” but also took on male roles before beginning to transition in 2004. He was also part of a showbiz dynasty as the grandson of Cliff “Charley Weaver” Arquette, and the sibling of David Arquette, Patricia Arquette, and Rosanna Arquette. Alexis was only 47 years old when she passed away from cardiac arrest caused by HIV on September 11, 2016.
GIVEN NAME: DAVID ROY FITCH / TRANSGENDER NAME: TAYLOR LIANNE CHANDLER This transgendered beauty — who claims that she was born intersex, with male genitalia but no testicles — found fame after revealing to The ENQUIRER that she’d had a very kinky fling with legendary Olympics swimming champion Michael Phelps. She then turned that notoriety into an acting career by recreating the romance in the 2016 adult film “Going for the Gold,” with gay porn star Ty Roderick co-starring as “Michael.”
GIVEN NAME: WILLIAM ERVIN / TRANSGENDER NAME: ERIKA ERVIN Some would say that Erika has an unfair advantage as the official World’s Tallest Professional Model — since the 6’7″ beauty was born a male. She was making a living as a personal trainer after undergoing sexual reassignment surgery in 2004, since her acting career had stalled over only being offered roles as monsters or aliens. Erika then found her breakout role in the respectful “Freakshow” season of “American Horror Story” in 2016, with her character named after her modeling pseudonym of “Amazon Eve.”
GIVEN NAME: JARON BLOSHINSKY / TRANSGENDER NAME: JAZZ JENNINGS America’s biggest rising transgender star found fame with a series of Youtube videos as a young girl — with Barbara Walters making her an overnight star after a 2007 interview on “20/20.” Jazz landed her own reality show, “I Am Jazz,” in 2015, and also began taking on acting roles. Coverage of the 17-year-old’s sex-change operation in June 2018 marked the beginning of “gender confirmation surgery” being used as the preferred alternative to “sexual reassignment surgery.”