10 Transgender Youth Who Are Changing The World

By: Vianey Twyford, Shawn Reilly, and Trey Courts (members of our Youth Advisory Board)

This past weekend was International  Trans Day of Visibility (TDOV). Every year on March 31st, transgender and gender variant people around the world share their photos and stories, in an effort to shed light on the real lives of trans people.

Often, transgender people face huge obstacles in interpersonal relations, healthcare, education, housing, and work. According to the National Center for Trans Equality, trans people are more likely to “be fired or denied a job, face harassment and bullying at school, become homeless or live in extreme poverty, be evicted or denied housing or access to shelter, be denied access to critical medical care, be incarcerated or targeted by law enforcement, and to face abuse and violence.” Transgender people of color face these realities at even higher rates.

Many trans youth have a difficult time in U.S. schools. According to GLSEN’S 2015 National Climate Survey, trans students face more hostile school climates, compared to cisgender students. Additionally, over half of trans students have been prevented from using their preferred name or pronouns, and 60% of trans students have been required to use a bathroom or locker room of their legal sex, instead of their lived gender identity.

But Trans Day of Visibility is about more than uplifting these realities. The day was created to celebrate and honor the resilience of transgender people in the face of these oppressions. Founded in 2009 by Rachel Crandall, TDOV is a  response to the lack of positive holidays commemorating the hard and incredible work of trans people every single day.

In order to continue to celebrate trans people’s everyday acts of courage, we’ve put together a list of 10 trans youth that are changing the world through media and technology. Learn their stories and see the incredible resilience of transgender youth for yourself in their stories below!

1. Amandla Stenberg          


The non-binary actor has used their popularity from The Hunger Games and Beyonce’s Lemonade to highlight feminism and shift the narrative around identity. Coming out as nonbinary, Amandla challenges ideas around gender, bringing this discussion to mainstream audiences. They represent the new wave of young people using their platform to emphasize disparities in film and television in Hollywood. As an activist, they have brought attention to the lack of representation of non-conforming people in the media, intersectional feminism, and their responsibility as an influencer to challenge gender identity. Check out their video, “Don’t Cash Crop My Cornrows”.

2. Mars              


This genderfluid artist began the Art Hoe Collective which has encouraged LGBTQ youth of color to express themselves through art. Identifying as a movement “for us, by us”, the Art Hoe Collective has become incredibly popular on social media sites like Tumblr and Instagram. The viral movement has empowered queer people of color to share their art and become part of this creative community. Mars focuses on using art as a tool of expression for their community where unrestricted creativity flourishes.

3. Avery Jackson                


Coming out as transgender at age 4, Avery was supported by her parents to fully transition, and through this experience she has become an advocate for LGBT youth. Her story made national headlines as her parents were passionate about going to great lengths to help their daughter be happy. Combatting the lack of representation of transgender children, Avery has helped other families find strength and encouragement in their own trans journeys.

4. Ryan Jacobs Flores         


This YouTuber is using vlogs to show his journey as he transitions to an audience of more than 80,000 subscribers. His videos have helped other transmasculine people in their own transition experiences, creating dialogue and a community for trans youth going through similar experiences. Not only are the videos informative, but the personal touch he brings from self-administering testosterone shots to talking about his dating life, allows viewers to connect with Ryan in an intimate, yet relatable, way.

5. Grace Dolan-Sandrino


Co-founder of Youth Blackout DC and Gender and Orientation Alliance, Grace uses peer education to empower LGBTQ+ youth and to advocate for marginalized communities through her writing, which has been published in Teen Vogue, The Washington Post and Common Dreams. The 17-year old Afro-Latina transgender teen served under the Obama administration as an ambassador to the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans.

6. Brendan Jordan

This genderfluid YouTube star, with more than 250,000 subscribers, has used his platform as an advocate for the LGBT youth community. He has participated in a photo series for Miley Cyrus’ Happy Hippy Foundation, and models gender non-conforming clothes for American Apparel.

7. Zoey Luna

16 year old Zoey Luna has been a voice and advocate for the transgender community since she was young. At the age of 13, she fought for and helped pass California’s AB1266, a law that grants students the right to use facilities that correspond with their gender identity. She is also featured on the HBO documentaries “15: A Quinceañera Story,” and “Raising Zoey.”

8. Leo Sheng              


Leo documented his transition publicly on Instagram, in order to  show that “transitioning” is different for everyone, and that there is not one way to be who you are. Through his Instagram activism and content creation, he wishes to inspire everyone to be true to themselves.

9. Kian Toterrelo-Allen                                                      

Kian is  a 16 year old LGBT youth advocate. They are a  part of GLSEN’s national student council, has met former secretary of education John King at a student voices sessions, filmed a PSA, and most recently, has been a model and spokesperson for Hollister’s safe spaces campaign.  He has also created an Instagram page all about LGBTQ rights called @justlgbtstuff.

10. Rebekah Bruesehoff                                                           

Rebekah started her journey around the age of 7 and has since become a powerful voice in the transgender community. After going to counseling, consulting pediatric specialists in gender, and “peeling back the layers,” it one day clicked when Rebekah learned the word “transgender.” “I feel way more happier now that I know who I am,” she says. “I feel me.” Once facing anxiety and depression, Rebekah is now a happy advocate for youth all over the world.

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