Top 10 Transgender Highlights of 2021

Since 2018, Team TransLash has told trans stories to save trans lives: on, across social media as @translashmedia, on YouTube, through our podcasts and live streamed programming, with our zine series, and through our partner initiatives & events. This past year has been full of highs and lows; 2021 is officially the deadliest year for trans people on record, and we continue to fight against the insidious #AntiTransHateMachine.

Despite all of the challenges, we won’t stop championing trans lives and our collective resilience and brilliance – because trans people have always been here. We care so much about trans lives & trans health, that we were proud to help sponsor this year’s Philadelphia Trans Wellness Conference, and we’re currently exploring other ways to partner with organizations in 2022 and beyond.

As we close out 2021 and welcome 2022 with courage and hope, we wanted to share five highlights from the past year that affirmed our commitment to continue building community with our TGNC siblings and ally partners worldwide, and ten achievements from within our community that deserve all the recognition and then some! Take a look, and then let us know how TransLash inspired or supported you this year! We’d love to hear from you. Want to support our work? Invest in TransLash Media with your one-time or recurring contribution here

Ready to celebrate some wins with us? Here we go!

Team TransLash’s 2021 Highlights

1. #AntiTransHateMachine

On June 24, 2021, we at TransLash Media launched our four-part limited series podcast, The Anti-Trans Hate Machine: A Plot Against Equality. Since its debut, the series has been downloaded over 10,000 times! Every week we receive positive feedback, like this Apple Podcasts review: 

[IMAGE DESCRIPTION: A five-star Apple Podcasts review from October of 2021 reads: (header) Give Imara Jones a Pulitzer (main text) This podcast is ABSOLUTELY required listening and should be for every American. Not only does this podcast do an amazing job breaking down the current anti-trans political climate, but goes much deeper in exposing how Christian extremists are using decades of investment in political power to steer the American government toward chaos and the total breakdown of democracy. That trans people have become a political football for these people is both terrifying and unsurprising. Everyone should be listening to this immediately.”]

This fall, we also launched a supplemental resource guide for journalists, educators, activists, students, and anyone else who wants to learn more about who is behind the 100+ anti-trans bills across the country. If you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe and listen to #AntiTransHateMachine wherever you listen to podcasts, and to help spread the word in 2022! Tell your podcast-loving friends about us.

2. TransLash Zine: Online Ordering!

In 2019, POC Zine Project founder Daniela “Dani” Capistrano helped us launch our first-ever zine series. In 2021, we released two issues: our Pride Month edition in collaboration with Transgender Law Center, and Vol. 4: Migration Stories. We’re so excited to share that you can now order all four issues (and future editions) of TransLash Zine, our ongoing collaboration with POC Zine Project! We ship worldwide. Visit for more details. 

3. Pride Live Collaboration

Pride Live welcomed Stonewall Day 2021 Ambassador Imara Jones, founder of TransLash Media, for their Stonewall Day event on Sunday, June 6, 2021, as part of the Twitch Pride Festival presented by OutLoud. Folks were able to text REBEL to 243725 to donate to this year’s #SWD2021 beneficiaries: TransLash Media and TransTech Social Enterprises. Folks who couldn’t attend in person were able to stream live at home for free on Twitch, and the six-hour live stream resulted in 2.1M unique views.

4. Christina Aguilera: Pride 2021 Collection

For the month of June 2021, proceeds from pop icon Christina Aguilera’s Pride 2021 collection benefitted TransLash Media and TransTech Social Enterprises, and we so appreciated her collaboration and support! You can shop the collection here.

5. TransLash Podcast with Imara Jones: Netflix v. The Trans Community

We’re proud of every episode of our flagship podcast series, but Ep 30 deserves a special shout-out: host Imara Jones peers behind the curtain of Netflix to see what the Dave Chappelle controversy reveals about the operations and values of the streaming giant, as well as what the fallout might signal for Hollywood overall. Imara sits down with B Pagels-Minor, the Black trans employee fired by the company at the height of the public backlash surrounding the comedian, and Zoë Schiffer, Senior Reporter at The Verge, who broke story after story about Netflix’s handling of the criticism. Listen on Spotify and wherever else you listen to podcasts.

Transgender Artists & Leaders: 2021 Highlights

Certainly more than ten things happened in 2021 that affirmed trans lives and trans power, so take this list as an entrypoint to even more wonderful trans stories that you can find by searching the #transtwitter hashtag on Twitter.

1. Trans Icons for $1000, Alex: Amy Schneider

“Jeopardy!” champion Amy Schneider made history this year as the first trans woman to qualify for the show’s Tournament of Champions. Schneider, an engineering manager from Oakland, California, is not the first trans champion the show has had, but she is the first to qualify for the elusive Tournament of Champions, the annual competition featuring the players with the most wins from the past season.

2. China: Advancements in Trans Rights

Breaking with its usual prejudice toward LGBTQIA rights and issues, China launched its first medical clinic this year to treat transgender children and adolescents. The Chinese state-backed media outlet The Global Times reported in November that the clinic opened at the Children’s Hospital of Fudan University in Shanghai, saying that it will “serve as a bridge between transgender children, parents, doctors and the various circles of society.” Additionally, Jin Xing, the first person in China to openly undergo transition surgery, hosts one of China’s most popular talk shows, even as stigmas against LGBTQIA people remain widespread. In May, she was featured in a Dior campaign celebrating women’s empowerment.

3. #TransAthletes Matter

The International Olympic Committee recently announced a new framework for transgender and intersex athletes, finally dropping anti-trans policies that required competing athletes to undergo “medically unnecessary” procedures or treatment. In a six-page document, the IOC outlined 10 principles, which it described as “grounded on the respect for internationally recognised human rights,” that sports competitions should follow. It also said it will no longer require athletes to undergo hormone level modifications to compete.

Want to learn more about trans athletes and ways to support them? Chris Mosier, CeCé Telfer, Alana McLaughlin (the first openly transgender athlete to compete in mixed martial arts in the United States since 2014), Patricio “Pat” Manuel (the first professional transgender boxer), and many more trans  athletes tirelessly campaign for trans rights, and share valuable resources on their social media channels.

Watch our #LivesAtStake interview with Patricio Manuel, and listen to our interview with Chris Mosier and CeCé Telfer on TransLash Podcast with Imara Jones.

4. #TwoSpiritsBelongHere: Geo Soctomah Neptune

Geo Soctomah Neptune is non-binary, trans, and Two-Spirit, and in 2020, became the first out person of any of these identities to be elected to political office in the state of Maine. In 2021, Geo was honored in the Out 100, a prestigious list released each year by Out magazine of the 100 most influential and inspirational LGBTQIA leaders in the country. Neptune was also named a 2021 United States Artists Fellow, which comes with a well-deserved $50,000 reward.

Listen to our interview with Geo Neptune on TransLash Podcast with Imara Jones.

5. #BlackTransLivesMatter: Holding a Sister Initiative

Grantmakers for Girls of Color recently partnered with the Groundswell Fund and the Black Trans Fund to launch Holding a Sister Initiative, the first-ever national fund explicitly dedicated to trans girls and gender-expansive youth of color. Holding a Sister will award $1 million in grants in the first year, and will ultimately engage trans girls and gender-expansive youth of color in the decision-making process for selecting grantees on an ongoing basis. Learn more.

6. Dr. Rachel Levine: 1st Openly Trans Federal Official Confirmed by Senate

The Senate voted in March of 2021 to confirm Dr. Rachel Levine as assistant secretary for health in the Department of Health and Human Services. The vote is a history-making one: Levine is the first openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the Senate. The vote was 52-48 in favor of her confirmation. Levine was previously Pennsylvania’s secretary of health, where she led the commonwealth’s COVID-19 response.

Listen to our interview with Dr. Rachel Levine on TransLash Podcast with Imara Jones.

7. Brian Michael Smith: Making Sexy History

Actor Brian Michael Smith made history this year when he became the first transgender man to make People magazine’s “Sexiest Men Alive” list. Smith was named one of “25 of the sexiest men you can watch on TV now.”

8. “Pose” Star Michaela Jaé “Mj” Rodriguez Makes TV History

An army of Emmys viewers rooted for “Pose” star Rodriguez, the first transgender performer to receive a nomination in a lead acting category. She ended up losing to “The Crown” star Olivia Colman — but that didn’t stop us fans of the FX drama from celebrating Michaela Jaé’s groundbreaking achievements. Back in September, “Pose” was recognized with its first trio of 2021 statuettes at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards for its third and final season. Barry Lee Moe, Timothy Harvey, Greg Bazemore, Tene Wilder, Lisa Thomas and Rob Harmon claimed the award for Contemporary Hairstyling; Sherri Berman Laurence, Nicky Pattison Illum, Charles Zambrano, Shaun Thomas Gibson, Jessica Padilla and Jennifer Suarez took the award for Contemporary Makeup (Non-Prosthetic); and Analucia McGorty, Michelle Roy and Linda Giammarese won out in the category of Contemporary Costumes. The show has earned 20 Emmy nominations to date (including nine this year). 

9. Marsha P. Johnson: 1st Statue to Honor Transgender Women in NYC

Visitors to New York’s Christopher Park in September were greeted by the bust of LGBTQIA icon & activist Marsha P. Johnson, stoic yet softly smiling. She’s wearing a tiara on her head, designed to loop live flowers through. The bust was erected on what would have been Jonhson’s 76th birthday — and more than two years after city officials announced they were going to create a monument to Johnson and fellow transgender activist Sylvia Rivera. The bust of Johnson is just one of a few statues of women in the city’s parks, Erlick said, and the first to honor a transgender woman.

10. Intersex Activists are Thriving

In recent years the acronym LGBT (and expanded forms like LGBTQ+ and LGBTQIA+) has become much more widely used. Until now the L, G, B and T members of the community have received most of the spotlight from mainstream media. There is, however, one group still to gain from more awareness, understanding and overall acceptance: the I, or intersex.

Despite the lack of media coverage, we know that intersex activists, leaders, and creators are thriving:

  • Model, activist, and filmmaker River Gallo is the GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) award-winning creator of short film Ponyboi. The film was presented as Gallo’s master’s degree thesis and premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. 
  • Small Luk is renowned as the first Hong Kong native to publicly acknowledge their intersex status. Luk founded Beyond the Boundary – Knowing and Concerns Intersex, an organisation that works to raise public awareness, promote intersex rights and advocate for an end to forced genital surgery and conversion therapy, common practices that many intersex people have undergone around the world.
  • Sean Saifa Wall is an outspoken American activist, speaker and advocate for intersex rights. He has written for Quartz and The Advocate and has been interviewed on various platforms including BuzzFeed and HuffPost Live. Wall also had a three year run as president of Interact Advocates for Intersex Youth (interACT), a non-profit that campaigns for the rights of those born with intersex traits.

Listen to our interview with Sean Saifa Wall on TransLash Podcast with Imara Jones.

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TransLash tells trans stories to save trans lives. As a trusted source for journalists, thought-leaders, movement activists, researchers, and those wanting to know about trans people, we produce narratives about and for the trans community—accurately and reliably. At a time when disinformation about trans people is being used to undermine democracy and human rights, TransLash Media serves as a beacon of hope through the voices that we share with the world.



TransLash tells trans stories to save trans lives. As a trusted source for journalists, thought-leaders, movement activists, researchers, and those wanting to know about trans people, we produce narratives about and for the trans community—accurately and reliably. At a time when disinformation about trans people is being used to undermine democracy and human rights, TransLash Media serves as a beacon of hope through the voices that we share with the world.


Coming Soon

The Glow UP

At TransLash, change is constant. We embrace our own process of collective transformation, and we honor every step of the journey. We’re getting ready to celebrate a pivotal point in our story, and we’re inviting you to be a part of it! 

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We’ve been working behind the scenes to launch a new brand for TransLash—one that honors our roots, reflects our growth, and leaves room for what’s to come. Over the next few months, you’ll notice fresh visuals and content as we bring our “glow up” to life across our digital channels. This summer, we’ll celebrate the culmination of that work: our brand new website! We’re building a new home for the journalism you love and trust, grounded in our deep commitment to the trans community.

We’re stepping into our own transition, and we want to share it with you. Join us!

Be the first to know when we launch the new site!


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