Actor Josie Totah Comes Out As Transgender In Inspiring Essay
Meet Josie Totah.
You may know the 17-year-old from her roles in Jessie, Glee, and Spider-Man: Homecoming, as J.J. Totah.
But in a brave essay in TIME, the rising star is finally revealing her truth. She isn’t a “gay boy” but a transgender female.
“Acting has always been my passion. I’m grateful for roles I’ve gotten to play on shows like Champions, and I know I’m lucky to be able to do what I love. But I also feel like I let myself be shoved into a box: ‘J.J. Totah, gay boy.'”
Josie goes on to write that everyone made the assumption since she was young and she even felt she “owed it to everybody” to accept that label.
“I was afraid I wouldn’t be accepted, that I would be embarrassed, that the fans who knew me from the time when I acted in a Disney show would be confused. But I realized over the past few years that hiding my true self is not healthy. I know now, more than ever, that I’m finally ready to take this step toward becoming myself. I’m ready to be free. So, listen up y’all: You can jump on or jump off. Either way this is where I’m heading.
My pronouns are she, her and hers. I identify as female, specifically as a transgender female. And my name is Josie Totah.”
Josie credits TLC‘s I Am Jazz, which tells the story of trans teen Jazz Jennings, for giving her a way to describe how she felt — and what she had to do next:
“I looked over at her in the middle of the show and said, ‘This is me. I’m transgender. And I need to go through this.’ My mother, who is immensely supportive and gracious, said, ‘Okay, let’s do it.’ Three days later I was meeting with my pediatrician, who referred me to a specialist, who put me on a hormone blocker. From that point on, I hit the ground running.”
Josie also has some important words for people who don’t have a transgender person in their lives:
“This is not something that just happened. This is not a choice that I made. 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 also says:
“…when my friends and family call me Josie, it feels like I’m being seen. It’s something everyone wants, to feel understood. And, as a semi-religious person who went to Catholic school, I have come to believe that God made me transgender. I don’t feel like I was put in the wrong body. I don’t feel like there was a mistake made. I believe that I am transgender to help people understand differences. It allows me to gain perspective, to be more accepting of others, because I know what it feels like to know you’re not like everyone else.”
We hope everyone will share this with someone in their lives who doesn’t understand what it means to be trans.
You can read the full essay HERE.
[Image via Ivan Nikolov/WENN.]