My name is Geena Rocero, and I spent the past twelve years building a successful career as
a fashion model, all the while holding a very big secret close. In March 2014,
I finally ‘came out’ as transgender; I put everything on the line hoping that
my efforts might elevate my community, and how we’re perceived.
My life is now dedicated to raising awareness about the need for self-identification with the fewest barriers within the trans community.
To do this, we're going to identify countries where legislation is at a 'tipping point'. Then we'll partner with local trans-justice organizations and activists, and ask them how we - the international community - can best serve them. We'll take their lead in mobilizing attention and action.
Your funds will go to support this on-the-ground movement building work. Expenses include (but are not limited to):
- Legal aid fees
- Transportation vouchers
- Stipends for activists
I've gathered and exceptional group of artists and activists to be part of this campaign. Some of my favorite perks are highlighted below.
Get a limited edition, custom-designed shirt from world famous street artist SEIZER ONE; you can see his work in Banksy's award-winning documentary, 'Exit Through the Gift Shop'.
In a couple months, I'm going to shoot a series of images for Russian based visual artist Uldus called 'In Transition'; we're offering a signed, limited edition photo as one of our perks.
Finally, we're partnering with fellow activist and trans justice crusader Janet Mock to get copies of her New York Times best-selling book, 'Redefining Realness' to you by mid-May.
I was born and raised in Manila, in the Philippines. I was assigned boy at birth based on the appearance of my genitalia. When I was 5 years old, I’d put a t-shirt over my head, and let it drape down my back. My mother asked me, ‘why do you always put a tshirt on your head?’ I’d tell her, ‘This is my hair. I’m a girl.’
When I was 15, a transwoman beauty pageant manager named TL convinced me to join pageants. For the next 2 years, being in trans beauty pageants was my full-time job. I met some of my best friends in that community.
In 2001, at age 15, my mom called, and told me that my green card petition came through, and it was time to emigrate to the USA.
I was hesitant at first. I was having fun with pageants, with friends, traveling and I felt fully accepted as a transgender female. Then she told me that in United States there is a law that would allow me to change my name and gender marker. It was all I needed to hear.
In July 2001, at age 17, I moved to San Francisco to be with my family. In 2003, my Mom and I went to Thailand for my gender reassignment surgery.
While traveling from NYC to Tokyo in 2005, I was stopped by immigration officials. My passport had not yet been changed, and I was detained for hours, intrusively questioned, and subjected to an invasive search. The experience ultimately inspired me to legally change my official documentation, but not before suffering what felt like deep humiliation and embarrassment.
The first time I looked down at my new California driver’s license, and it said ‘Geena’ and ‘F’, it felt like my life had started anew. My fears were minimized. I felt like I could finally realize my dreams.
I took a chance, and bought a one way ticket to NYC. I was discovered by a photographer one night in the lower east side. For 12 years, I built a successful career as a fashion model, while holding my secret close. My clients, my manager and my agent didn’t know my true identity. The photos below are some of my favorites from past photo shoots.
On March 17th, I told the world at TED that I’m a transgender woman. Check out the TED talk below:
I got up on that stage for all those who came before me, and because I have a vision for my community. I want all transgender individuals to be able to self identify with the fewest possible barriers.
There are only a handful countries where you can legally change your name and gender marker, without having to first undergo surgery. In other words, you have to give up rights, in order to get rights. This must change. Together, we can create more progressive policy around the world - countries like France and Venezuela are close - and with just the right amount of effort, we can be part of creating a more equitable world.