Everything you need to know about trailblazing trans actress and former Disney star Josie Totah

Trans Actress Josie Totah

After making a name for herself in the Disney Channel original series Jessie, Josie Totah is now making waves as an actress since coming out as trans six years ago.

Totah started acting in 2012 and appeared in Jessie – as a character called Stuart Wooten – for two years.

She has also appeared in Sofia The First, New Girl, 2 Broke Girls, Glee, Moxie, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Big Mouth, Human Resources, iCarly, and a 2020 rerun of Saved By The Bell as Lexi, as well as the 2018 sitcom Champions.

In an essay she wrote for TIME Magazine, Totah said: “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.”

How did Josie Totah realise she was trans?

Totah said that she wanted to be a woman long before she realised what being “transgender” meant.

In TIME, she wrote: “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. Since I could speak in full sentences, I was like, ‘Give me a dress!’ I always knew on some level that I was female.”

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But, in the end, it was a docuseries on TLC that really “crystallised” how she felt about her gender. The series in question was I Am Jazz, which explored the life and transition of 14-year-old reality star Jazz Jennings.

Totah began her acting career playing male roles but then publicly came out as a trans woman in August 2018 through her essay in TIME.

“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,” Totah wrote.

Many people assumed Totah was gay before she came out as trans

In her essay, Totah said that many people believed that she was a gay boy instead of a transgender woman.

This was in part due to the fact that she wanted to “sing with the girls, not play soccer with the boys” and when she became an actress, she leaned into the same role again.

“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,” Totah said.

By letting people believe she was gay rather than coming out as transgender, Totah felt like it put her into a box – as evidenced by the fact her character in Champions is gay as well.

She also feared being rejected by fans who knew her career prior to transitioning, or that “people will look at [her] differently”.

“But when my friends and family call me Josie, it feels like I’m being seen. It’s something everyone wants, to feel understood,” Totah wrote.

She feels a responsibility to help others in the LGBTQ+ community

Totah has been vocal about the bullying and harassment that a lot of LGBTQ+ youth continue to face.

In an interview with Teen Vogue, Totah said: “I think we need to stand up to each other.”

“If you see someone being hurt, if you see someone being harmed, and if you see someone that’s not in a safe position, you need to definitely say something.”

Totah spoke up about this during the Human Rights Campaign’s ‘Time to THRIVE’ conference in 2019 as well. She said that “the struggle for equality and civil rights continues” but while there are people “ready to take you down”, there are also people “waiting to love you and to support you”.

“We are loveable. We are capable of being loved and giving it right back,” she added.

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