March 31st is International Transgender Day of Visibility. Photo: oksanka007/Shutterstock

In honor of International Transgender Day of Visibility, we’re celebrating trans individuals who have had an impact on making the world a better place for the LGBTQ+ community and beyond. From the worlds of science and technology to art and activism, these 15 trans people have changed the way we view the world. 

Lorena Borjas speaking at Trans Day of Action June 22, 2012. Photo: Glynnis Jones/Shutterstock

Lorena Borjas ( Born May 29 1960 – Died March 30, 2020)

Also known as the mother of the Latinx transgender community in Queens, New York, Borjas was a tireless activist and advocate for the trans and immigrant communities. During her life, Borjas helped countless people find access to safer sex supplies, HIV testing and treatment, educational and legal resources. Along with Chase Strangio of the American Civil Liberties Union, the two founded the Lorena Borjas Community Fund, which helps provide bail and bond to trans immigrants dealing with immigration and other legal situations. She was also the founder of Colectivo Intercultural TRANSgrediendo, which “works to promote and defend human rights and access to comprehensive health care for TransGNB, QBIPOC and Sex Workers” in New York City. Borjas died in March 2020 of complications due to Covid-19. Her legacy lives on. 

Lynn Conway (Born Jan. 2 1938)

In the 1960s, computer scientist and engineer Lynn Conway worked at IBM and created a process called “generalized dynamic instruction handling,” which helped improve the work of computer processors. Along with Carver Mead, Conway created the “Mead–Conway VLSI chip design revolution” which changed the game for microelectronics. Conway was fired from IBM in 1968 after revealing her intention to transition. The company apologized publicly in 2020. Since then, Conway has made countless contributions to her field and has been an activist for transgender rights.

Lana and Lilly Wachowski (Born June 21 1965, and Dec. 29 1967)

The Wachowskis first made a name for themselves in 1996 with their directorial debut with the lesbian noir thriller, “Bound,” starring Gina Gershon and Jennifer Tilly. However, it was 1999’s “The Matrix” and subsequent sequels that made the Wachowskis a household name. Lana was the first of the siblings to publicly transition, followed a few years later by Lilly. The siblings also wrote and directed the Netflix series “Sense8” which featured a trans woman lead (played by actress Jamie Clayton) and queer love stories. The series only ran for two seasons but quickly developed a dedicated fan following. While the Wachowskis also do projects separately, the magic they bring to the screen as a duo of creators has solidified their status in entertainment history. 

Ryan Cassata performing. Photo: Ryan Cassata Facebook

Ryan Cassata  (Born Dec. 13 1993)

Musician Ryan Cassata has been an activist for trans rights since his teenage years, speaking at high schools, universities and conferences nationwide. Cassata was the first openly trans performer on the Vans Warped Tour, earning a spot in the 2013 and 2015 tours. Cassata is an award-winning songwriter who has released over a dozen albums and EPs, including the ASCAP Foundation Sunlight of the Spirit award-winning song “Jupiter.” 

Shannon Minter (Born Feb. 14 1961)

Lawyer Shannon Minter is the legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and has been on the front lines of key legal cases for the LGBTQ+ community in the U.S. Minter acted as lead counsel for the California Marriage Equality Case in 2004 and has been an integral part of advocating for the rights of LGBTQ+ Americans for over two decades. A graduate of Cornell Law School, Minter has received many awards for his work, including the Anderson Prize Foundation’s Creating Change Award by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

Nisha Ayub (Born April 5 1979)

Malaysian activist Nisha Ayub co-founded Justice for Sisters, an organization created to “raise public awareness about issues surrounding violence and persecution against the Mak Nyah community in Malaysia.” (Mak Nyah is a term used to describe trans women in Malaysia.) She is also the co-founder of SEED Foundation, which aims to help transgender and marginalized communities in Malaysia. Ayub has received several awards for her activism, including the U.S. Secretary of State’s 2016 International Women of Courage Award

Charlotte Clymer is active on social media and has a popular Substack. Photo: Charlotte Clymer Facebook

Charlotte Clymer (Born Oct. 11 1986)

Charlotte Clymer is a popular internet figure, military veteran and the voice behind the award-winning blog Charlotte’s Web Thoughts. From 2017-2020, Clymer acted as press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign and was named a Political Fellow at the Georgetown Institute of Politics and Public Service in 2021. With over 390,000 followers on Twitter, Clymer uses her platform to spread news and awareness of LGBTQ+ and political issues.  

Suzy Eddie Izzard (Born Feb. 7 1962)

Genderfluid British comedian and actor Suzy Eddie Izzard has been a beloved fixture on stage and screen since the early 80s. While performing, Izzard often appeared in dresses and makeup and has had an evolving view of her gender. While appearing as a guest of “The Political Party” earlier this month, Izzard announced she would now be going by the name Suzy Eddie Izzard. Also an accomplished runner, Izzard has raised over 1,000,000 pounds for charitable causes like Sport Relief and Care International

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Actor and activist Brian Michael Smith speaking at the 2022 HRC Los Angeles dinner.

Brian Michael Smith (Born Jan. 29 1983)

“9-1-1: Lonestar” actor Brian Michael Smith has been breaking barriers since he was a teenager. Before scoring acting roles in “Law & Order: SVU” “Girls” and “Queen Sugar” Smith was a star athlete in his hometown of Ann Arbor, Michigan. His role in “9-1-1 Lonestar” made him the first out Black trans male actor to have a lead on a broadcast television series. In 2021, Smith was the first out trans man to be named to People Magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” issue. In addition to his groundbreaking contributions to the entertainment world, Smith is an advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and trans representation

Natasha Jiménez (Birthdate unknown)

Trans and intersex rights activist Natasha Jiménez has been working to create a more just and equitable world for the community for over 30 years. From Costa Rica, she is the General Coordinator for the Latin American Space for Sexualities and Rights (MULABI) and has served as an advisory board member of the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice

Sarah McBride (Born Aug. 9 1990)

Sarah McBride has made history a few times now. In 2016, she was the first openly trans person to speak at the Democratic National Convention. Then in 2020, she successfully ran for a seat in the Delaware State Senate and won, making her the first openly trans state senator. McBride worked on several campaigns before becoming a candidate and spent years working toward LGBTQ+ equality. She has spoken at events worldwide, including the recent Human Rights Conference during Sydney WorldPride. You can read more about McBride’s story in her 2018 book, “Tomorrow Will Be Different: Love, Loss, and the Fight for Trans Equality.

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Gopi Shankar Madurai speaking at TEDX NITKSurathkal in 2020.

Gopi Shankar Madurai (Born April 13 1991)

As a student, Gopi Shankar Madurai founded the Srishti Madurai, the “first Genderqueer & Intersex LGBTQA+ student volunteer group designed to target specifically to the problems of diverse SOGIESC people in non-metro cities of Tamil Nadu.” In 2012, the organization launched India’s first help line for LGBTQIA+ people in need. Shankar Madura travels the world speaking about intersex and trans rights.

Chris Mosier (Born 1980)

Founder of, Chris Mosier is a triathlete who broke new ground as the first trans man to join the U.S. national team and as the first openly trans athlete to appear in ESPN Magazine’s “The Body Issue.” Mosier competed in the 2020 Olympic trials to qualify for the men’s team, making him to the first trans athlete to do so. Since then, he has actively advocated for trans representation in sports, founding Trans Athlete and working with organizations like You Can Play Project and Go! Athletes

Sylvia Rivera (July 2 1951 – Feb. 19 2002)

A true icon, Sylvia Rivera was a legendary activist who never stopped fighting for trans and queer rights. Johnson is considered instrumental in the Stonewall Rebellion and other Gay Liberation Front demonstrations. In 1970, along with fellow trans icon Marsha P. Johnson, she started Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), which fought against anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and offered services to homeless queer and trans youth. Rivera’s legacy lives on even after passing through Sylvia’s Place youth shelter and the Sylvia Rivera Law Project