'Champions' star Josie Totah comes out as transgender
Former Disney star J.J. Totah has come out as transgender.
In an essay published by Time magazine Monday, the 17-year-old shared her news and announced her new name.
"My pronouns are she, her and hers," she wrote. "I identify as female, specifically as a transgender female. And my name is Josie Totah."
Totah wrote that while she is grateful for the acting opportunities she's had including in the TV series Champions and Glee and in films including Other People, she feels "like I let myself be shoved into a box: 'J.J. Totah, gay boy.' "
"When I was really young, growing up in a small town in Northern California, people would just assume I was gay," she wrote. "On the playground, I was the type of kid who wanted to sing with the girls, not play soccer with the boys. Then I found myself playing that role once I got into the entertainment industry, and people kept assuming my identity."
That included being asked in interviews how it felt to be a young, gay man and being introduced as such while presenting an award for an LGBTQ organization.
"I understand that they didn't really know better," Totah wrote. "I almost felt like I owed it to everybody to be that gay boy. But that has never been the way I think of myself."
She said she worried about confusing her fans, but had an awareness early on.
"When I was five, long before I understood what the word gender meant, I would always tell my mother that I wished I were a girl," she wrote. "Since I could speak in full sentences, I was like, "Give me a dress!" I always knew on some level that I was female. But it crystallized about three years ago when I was a 14-year-old watching the show I Am Jazz with my mother."
I Am Jazz is a docuseries which follows the life of transgender teen Jazz Jennings.
Like Jennings, Totah wrote, she decided to medically transition.
Now she says she plans on continuing her career as she heads off to college.
"And I can only imagine how much more fun it's going to be to play someone who shares my identity, rather than having to contort myself to play a boy," Totah wrote.
"I'm going to gun for those roles, be it a transgender female or a cisgender female. Because it's a clean slate -- and a new world."
By Lisa Respers France, CNN. The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2018 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.
The Gayly. 8/21/2018 @ 1:48 p.m. CST.