20 Oldest Transgender Celebs (and Why We Love Them)

Renée Richards! Romy Haag! Cheers to the trailblazing trans icons!

Pictured above: Amanda Lepore.

Trans people have to face a lot of oppression on the way to triumphing or even surviving, so it’s time to celebrate the trans icons who’ve managed to hang around and do the most with their time. Here, in decreasing order of age, are the 20 oldest living trans icons and what they’ve brought.

  1. Jan Morris, 93

    Photo by Walt Disney Television via Getty Images Photo Archives/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

    The famed travel writer and historian made waves when she wrote all about her transition in the 1974 book, Conundrum. She is still partnered with Elizabeth Tuckniss, whom she married in 1949, way before her transition. (They later divorced while staying together, then afterwards attained a civil partnership).

  2. Renée Richards, 85

    Focus on Sport/Getty Images

    A hero who helped wake up the 1970s, Richards won a landmark case against the United States Tennis Association in favor of transgender rights. She went on to coach Martina Navratilova, be played by Vanessa Redgrave in the TV movie Second Serve (based on her book), and return to ophthalmology.

  3. Lynn Conway, 82

    A brilliant computer scientist and inventor, Conway happens to also be a trans activist who transitioned way back in 1968.

  4. Wendy Carlos, 80

    Leonard M. DeLessio/Corbis via Getty Images

    Always a trendsetter, Carlos performed and produced Switched-on Bach, a 1968 album of synthesized Bach music that charted in the top 10, and went on to do the extraordinary soundtracks for Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange (which also consisted of synthesized classical music) and The Shining. In the 1970s, Carlos began talking publicly about being trans, and later, she said people had accepted that fact better than she’d imagined.

  5. Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, 79

    Greg Doherty/Getty Images

    Miss Major was a leader at the 1969 Stonewall riots and has been a community leader for trans rights and trans women of color for decades. She was the original executive director for the Transgender GenderVariant Intersex Justice Project, assisting trans people in the prison system.

  6. Romy Haag, 72

    Ilona Studre/ullstein bild via Getty Images

    The Dutch beauty acted, sang, and owned a cabaret, in addition to being a paramour of David Bowie and friend of Amanda Lear (see below). She’s pure glamour.

  7. Kate Bornstein, 72

    Noam Galai/WireImage

    The writer and performer (who was “Person in Charge 1” in the Broadway play Straight White Men in 2018) had gender reassignment surgery and is gender nonconforming.

  8. Jayne County, 72

    Ian Dickson/Redferns

    She was rock-n-roll’s first openly transgender singer—and possibly the first out trans singer in glam punk, punk rock, blues rock, and boogie-woogie too. She’s been in over 15 films too, including Derek Jarman’s Jubilee (1978) and Wigstock: The Movie.

  9. Caitlyn Jenner, 70

    Jerod Harris/WireImage

    An Olympic athlete turned reality star, Caitlyn came out as trans in 2015 and we hoped for the best. She’s done some good with her openness, but when she defended voting for Trump, we could only offer her thoughts and prayers.

  10. Amanda Lear, 69

    Micheline PELLETIER/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

    The French model and chanteuse earned the fascination of everyone from Salvador Dali to David Bowie. A glamorous enigma, she’s sung disco, starred on TV and in theater, and lived the high life.

  11. Lana Lawless, 67

    Getty Images

    The pro golf player won a lawsuit against the LPGA (Ladies Professional Golfing Association) for her right to play in the world championship as a woman. Brava!

  12. Caroline Cossey, 65

    Brendan Monks/Mirrorpix/Getty Images

    Sometimes going by the name Tula, Cossey was a model, an extra in the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only, and the first trans woman to pose for Playboy. She also wrote a memoir called I Am A Woman. When I met her at a nightclub, she asked, “Do I make you nervous?” She actually was so exciting that she did.

  13. Cidny Bullens, 65

    Known for singing backup for Elton John and Rod Stewart and contributing to the Grease soundtrack, among other musical achievements, Cidny transitioned to male and has been opening hearts and minds with his one-man show, Somewhere Between: Not An Ordinary Life.

  14. Georgina Beyer, 62

    Fiona Hanson - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images

    The first openly trans mayor in the world—and also the first openly trans Parliament member—Beyer has blazed trails in her native New Zealand. (Pictured above left, with Queen Elizabeth II and Price Philip.)

  15. Eddie Izzard, 58

    Chris Williamson/Getty Images

    The Emmy winner (for his 1999 comedy special Eddie Izzard: Dress To Kill) and a staple of TV, movies, and theater, Eddie has self-identified in various ways through the years, but now goes for “transgender,” with pronouns of either “he” or “she.”

  16. Buck Angel, 57

    Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic

    A porn actor and producer who billed himself as “The Man With a Pussy,” Buck went on to be a groundbreaking educator about sex and trans-related issues. (Pictured above center with Bamby Salcedo, Laverne Cox, Miss Major and Shane Ortega of The Trans List documentary.)

  17. Bianca Leigh, 57

    D Dipasupil/Getty Images

    She costarred in Hurricane Bianca with that other Bianca (Del Rio) and popped up on Broadway in The Nap, in addition to telling her story in cabaret venues. Bianca Leigh has delighted NYC for years. (Pictured above center with cast and filmmakers of Hurricane Bianca: Ash Christian, Rachel Dratch, Molly Ryman, Matt Kugelman, Bianca Del Rio, and Willam Belli.)

  18. Justin Vivian Bond, 56

    Patrick McMullan/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

    A chanteuse extraordinaire and the hilarious half of Kiki and Herb (a friction-al show biz couple), Mx. Bond is one of New York’s finest.

  19. Amanda Lepore, [indeterminate age]

    Santiago Felipe/Getty Images

    A curvy Marilyn Monroe for the new age, Amanda is a longtime club presence who disrobes as she coos “I Want To Be Loved By You.” She’s a doll—almost literally.

  20. Chaz Bono, 51

    Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

    The son of the eternal superstar Cher and the late Sonny Bono, Chaz was one of the first celebrities to make a big difference in trans awareness. His 2011 documentary Becoming Chaz raised consciousness when it played at Sundance and on the Oprah Winfrey Network.

Michael Musto is the long running, award-winning entertainment journalist and TV commentator.
@mikeymusto