After 9 Years in Front of the Camera, This Model Came Out as Transgender

Geena Rocero revealed her secret during her TED talk so she can advocate for better support for the transgender community.
Apr 4, 2014·
Culture and education editor Liz Dwyer has written about race, parenting, and social justice for several national publications. She was previously education editor at Good.

Over the past year TED talks have come under fire for promoting pop psychology and seemingly intangible ideas such as creativity and innovation. But nothing is more real than watching 30-year-old model Geena Rocero come out to the world as transgender.

In her moving talk, which she gave on Monday at TED 2014 in Vancouver, Rocero explains that she began identifying as female when she was a child growing up in the Philippines and started entering transgender beauty pageants at 15. Although her family was supportive, her government identification still designated her as male. Rocero moved to the U.S. in 2001 so she could legally change her name and gender marker. Four years later, in 2005, she began modeling professionally, and she has worked with fashion brands such as Rimmel Cosmetics and Hanes.

No one knew Rocero was identified as male when she born.

"Because of my success, I never had the courage to share my story," said Rocero. However, because so many other transgender people face harassment and violence, Rocero knew she had to put aside her fears of rejection and speak up.

Not only is she talking about the need for justice, but Rocero is also acting on her convictions. She used her TED talk to announce the launch of Gender Proud, an advocacy and awareness organization dedicated to empowerment and the advancement of transgender rights. Thanks to her courage, Rocero is not just a model in front of the camera but a role model making a difference.