• Janet Mock became the first openly transgender woman to be able to call the shots at a major content company when she landed a deal with Netflix.
  • Patricio Manuel - the first transgender boxer to compete in a professional fight - has become the face of boxing brand Everlast.

It has been a mixed year for the global transgender community.

In the US, the Trump administration has rolled back transgender rights, including a ban on transgender people serving in the military, which took effect in April.

But transgender people have achieved some key milestones, including actress Nicole Maines playing the first transgender superhero in a TV show.

Here are five heroes for 2019.

1. Janet Mock

In June, the producer, writer and director signed a three-year, multimillion-dollar deal with Netflix, becoming the first openly transgender woman to be able to call the shots at a major content company.

It gives her free rein to shine a spotlight on communities that have been overlooked by Hollywood.

“As someone who grew up in front of the TV screen, whether that was watching talk shows or family sitcoms or VHS films, I never thought that I would be embraced,” she told Variety.

“And more than embraced. Given not just a seat at the table but a table of my own making.”

2. Patricio Manuel

Manuel made history for the first time on 12 December, 2018, by becoming the first transgender boxer to compete in a professional fight - which he then won.

In September 2019, he became the first transgender face of the boxing brand Everlast.

He told CNBC: “We only have one life to live. As clichéd as that sounds, I really try to live my life having the least amount of regrets as possible.”

3. Nicole Maines

As a teen, Maines was banned from using the girls’ washroom at school. But in a landmark case for transgender rights, Maine's Supreme Court ruled her human rights had been violated and made schools allow students to use the bathroom of the gender with which they identify.

Now an actress, this year she played the first-ever transgender superhero on TV: Nia Nal (aka Dreamer) in Supergirl.

She told USA Today: “If I had had a trans superhero, someone who looks like me wearing a cape, growing up, that would have changed the game. That would have been an entire new level of validation in myself to think that I can be a superhero!”

4. Geena Rocero

In 2014, the Filipino American supermodel gave a TED talk that went viral. Two minutes in, she put an image on the screen behind her of herself as a boy, the gender she’d been assigned at birth.

Rocero had undergone sex reassignment surgery at 19 and kept it a secret until she was on stage, aged 30 at the time.

This summer, she became the first transgender Asian Pacific Islander Playmate in Playboy magazine.


She told Refinery29: “Being associated with such an iconic brand that has always stood for freedom of expression, individuality, and unapologetic expression of personhood is such a wonderful feeling.”

5. CeCe Telfer

CeCe Telfer, who’s on the track and field team for Franklin Pierce University, became the first openly transgender woman to win a National Collegiate Athetic Association (NCAA) title - the 400 meter hurdle - in June this year.

Her win sparked controversy that she had an unfair advantage, but the NCAA only permits transgender women to compete if they have suppressed their testosterone levels for a full calendar year.