TED Talks | Transgender | Video

Model Geena Rocero Comes Out As Trans During 'First Trans TED Talk': VIDEO


Model, activist and the founder of Gender Proud — a movement that aims to change the global perception of and conversation about transgender individuals — Geena Rocero recently came out in what’s being lauded as the first TED talk about transgender issues on the main stage.

“Gender has always been considered a fact, immutable,” Rocero said. “But we now know it’s actually more fluid complex, and mysterious.”

When Rocero began working as a professional female fashion model, she felt that she had achieved her life’s dream — her outside self finally reflected her inner self.

But for the last nine years, some of her close friends and even her agent did not know that she was assigned a male gender at birth. She kept her past a secret because she was afraid of how people would treat her once she came out as trans.

“All of us are put in boxes by our family, by our religion, by our society — our moment in history, even our own bodies. Some people have the courage to breathe free, not to accept the limitations imposed by the color of their skin or the beliefs of those who surround them. Those people are always a threat to the status quo, to what is considered acceptable.”

Rocero moved from the Phillipines to the U.S. so that she could legally change her name and gender marker. In a column for CNN, Rocero wrote:

“A personal turning point came in 2005, a year before I became a U.S. citizen, when I was traveling through Tokyo. Back then, I still had my Philippines passport and my former male gender marker, but I presented as a woman. I was taken into the immigration office at the airport and questioned for hours about my identity. I have friends in the Philippines -- where there is no law that allows them to change their name and marker -- that have these experiences every time they travel. It's dehumanizing.”

In her TED talk, she explains, “For some people, their IDs are a license to drive or even to get a drink. For me that was my license to live. To feel dignified… Many are not so fortunate.”

In an attempt to help transgender people gain their dignity by affirming their gender in government documents worldwide, Rocero has launched a Change.org petition and an IndieGoGo account to help fund Gender Proud's initial efforts.

See her talk, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. From the picture used in this article it's clear that she's had her penis amputated.

    Who is she trying to kid.

    It must be tough to be such a burly woman.

    Posted by: MaryM | Apr 1, 2014 6:05:40 PM

  2. MARYM,

    some folks don't need their penises amputated. It was too small to begin with-- it never mattered. Do you put socks inside the front of your jockey shorts?

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Apr 1, 2014 6:13:16 PM

  3. TED jumped the shark a year or two ago.

    Hopefully Geena can find a better forum to speak to.

    Posted by: Randy | Apr 1, 2014 6:15:01 PM

  4. No - I'm happy with my penis. I wonder how big her penis was?

    It is cisphobic for transpeople to refuse to talk about their original genitalia.

    It alienates those of use happy with our gender identity.

    Posted by: MaryM | Apr 1, 2014 6:20:45 PM

  5. @ MARYM,

    oh, shut up. Have a drink with Rick...you drink, and he'll take his drugs.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Apr 1, 2014 6:27:24 PM

  6. ..well to make a long story short - my husband's aunt Dee was married to Joe....Joe made decision to become Morgan fully....Morgan and Dee are still/now and will forever be good friends....life's amazing...anywho Morgan often mentions how Big his was, and Dee will agree....and insisted on see'n Morgan's Hoo hoo, and did...she said it's impressive....I guess it just depends whom is in your life to begin with, that's how it dictates which way things will turn out...

    Posted by: disgusted american | Apr 1, 2014 6:48:56 PM

  7. TED has jumped the shark but this is still great for trans people to get the word out on an international intellectual creative and liberal space. It's not insular, which is the key.

    This is what we need to see more of, people like her and the wonderful lady from Orange is the new black. Peaceful, non aggressive and genuine about dialogue.

    Posted by: Rowan | Apr 1, 2014 7:33:25 PM

  8. Instead of saying "This is me at birth. I was assigned male genitalia..." -- this sound awkward and defensive -- just say "I was born a male, but was uncomfortable with it". This whole business of "assigned the wrong genitalia" and "born in the wrong body" -- NO YOU WEREN'T. You were as it was. You are. That's nature. Simply say "I was uncomfortable as a male." No evil penis talk. All this loopy psychologizing and angst and antagonism over the penis is overwrought and not really ameliorative. Just be yourself. Act natural. Stop building a case against nature. Accept (gracefully) the male side of you even as you become the female you feel you were meant to be.

    Posted by: will | Apr 1, 2014 8:07:29 PM

  9. Will, you're telling her that to be herself she has to act and think the way you want her to.

    MaryM (the original MaryM) always presented herself as a religious woman who was trying to learn about and come around to accepting LGBT people. Somehow she now has a penis and is no longer open to suggestion and criticism. Is MaryM Trans? Or is she just another alias of Rick, who has so many other usernames that he forgot which gender pronouns go to each one? I think we know the real answer.

    Posted by: Tyler | Apr 1, 2014 8:40:49 PM

  10. Just because a man grows his hair long and wears make-up, it doesn't make him a woman. These trans people are making a mockery of real women.

    Posted by: sam | Apr 1, 2014 9:08:56 PM

  11. She's awesome! I wish her the greatest success as she breaks into the competitive Asian shemale porn market!

    Posted by: Tyler | Apr 1, 2014 9:28:03 PM

  12. Lol Rick/Sam/MaryM.

    You impersonate me only when you feel threatened. I'm clearly getting to you. And I'm certainly calling you out for your racism, transphobia and general trolling.

    Trolls like Rick/Sam/MaryM makes a mockery of gay people and human beings in general. He is a sad, pathetic creature.

    Posted by: Tyler | Apr 1, 2014 9:38:35 PM

  13. I have nothing against trans people, but it is really disingenuous to suggest that gender is complicated and mysterious for the vast majority of people on Earth. For 99.8% of the population, it isn't that complicated and there really isn't any disconnect between what we have down below and how we identify.

    For .2% of the population, it is complicated. They need to find a way to navigate through their issues without trying to pretend that the whole world shares their issues. And for heaven's sake, stop exploiting gay people as a vehicle to advance your cause.

    Posted by: Damion Seppi | Apr 1, 2014 9:40:22 PM

  14. ok... I just have to say that I have worked in talent and most women cant model for a variety of reasons. I mean girls would lose jobs for being a inch to big when they were measured. I had one girl get fired on the set because they a birthmark on her back.

    I'd have to investigate him but I find the "modeling career" suspect. in my professional opinion there is no way people in the business wouldn't clue in. even if he didn't ping trans people would pick up on there was cosmetic surgery or the shoulders just weren't right. he's what they would refer to as "catalog" at best

    Posted by: Homo Genius | Apr 1, 2014 11:31:10 PM

  15. I always love hearing (presumably) gay people saying that since trans folks are a relatively small percentage of the population their issues don't really matter.

    Posted by: Thedrdonna | Apr 2, 2014 12:30:42 AM

  16. Love this thing about gay people being ignorant about trans people like black people being ignorant about gay people. It's like prejudice doesn't fall in your own yard to throw it around. The irony.

    Posted by: rallyxx | Apr 2, 2014 1:00:25 AM

  17. It is not that your issues don't matter. It is that we should not all be forced to pretend that they are issues for everyone.

    Transgenders deliberately try to create the impression that everyone is grappling with the towering issue of gender identity. Look at how Rocero says "we now know it’s actually more fluid complex, and mysterious.” Rocero could have said that it is a complicated, fluid thing for her or for trans people. But instead tries to make it a universal proposition, that gender is terribly complex for "us". There is no "us." For almost everyone, there is male and female. Almost nobody on Earth surgically alters their body to look like another gender. And almost nobody wants to castrate themselves like the "neutrois" people do. To pretend that 99.8% of the world's population has these issues is a lie. Just as it would be a lie if gay people tried to suggest that everyone is dealing with complicated, mysterious issues relating to sexual orientation.

    Posted by: Damion Seppi | Apr 2, 2014 1:46:15 AM

  18. Why hasn't Towleroad updated its comment system yet? Does Andy enjoy his website's reputation of being a hub for racist, transphobic trolls?

    Anyways, this woman is absolutely gorgeous and has serious potential to become an incredible public speaker. I wish her the best in her continued activism and modeling career!

    Posted by: JMC | Apr 2, 2014 2:52:07 AM

  19. The constant refrain that all the people pissed off and bored with how trannies have hijacked the LGB movement are all aliases of Rick is actually trolling.

    It is NOT transphobic to think that the LGB movement and the T movement need to be separated immediately.

    As for Tyler's asinine comment that I was a religious woman? No I never was. I have always been a male. He is a lying cisphobe.

    He also makes the following bizarre statement 'you're telling her that to be herself she has to act and think the way you want her to'.

    How is that different from her telling us that in order to be ourselves we need to accept her self-definition.

    I define her as a man who was not happy with her gender who had an operation to correct that and now wants to be regarded as a woman. And I do regard her as a woman - a trans woman.

    Her struggle is not my struggle though.

    Posted by: MaryM | Apr 2, 2014 4:58:44 AM

  20. Kind of silly to think that everyone agrees with the idea of LGBT and that only one troll commenter is opposed. Not true. If you look at what happens to "LGBT" organizations when they try to focus on trans issues, their donations plummet. Like it or not, it's the truth and when you follow the money, you can see that LGBs are not down with LGBT.

    There was never any debate or open discussion about this huge change when LGBT was thrust on us. I say we should have that debate now. Maybe we will all decide to keep it, but at least we will have thought about it. As it is now, all you have is a bunch of people screaming "transphobe!" and trying to squash discussion. Or you have trans activists like "DrDonna" who come on LGB blogs for the sole purpose of derailing any questioning of LGBT and policing discussion of trans issues. All this suggests that they are worried that there is no real legitimacy to the LGBT concept.

    Posted by: Andrew | Apr 2, 2014 6:03:25 AM

  21. I actually would be supportive of the trans-movement as a standalone movement.

    But the manner in which the trans-movement is obstructing the LGB movement through its appalling behaviour makes me want to have nothing to do with it. The hysteria; aggression and homoophobia of the trans-movement (not trans individuals) necessitates a serious discussion about whether to drop the T from the LGB.

    No doubt the usual lame shrieks of 'transphobe' will follow this reasonable request.

    Posted by: MaryM | Apr 2, 2014 8:20:27 AM

  22. Yes, MaryM, it's totally reasonable for you to casually misgender people, reduce trans folks to their genitalia, degrade a trans woman's appearance, call her a man, and all that is only on this one article. You get called a transphobe because you say bigoted things towards and about trans people, not because you feel that LGB people should kick trans folks out of their club.

    Posted by: Thedrdonna | Apr 2, 2014 2:39:30 PM

  23. Geena tells, in the beginning of her story, that religion does genders not help, to change.
    Religion is indeed fake... but... the Treu Gosepel of the Bible is still there.. and THAT could have made her REALLY FREE of wrong desires. It would made her be happy as a man. The REAL Gospel, really can change us totally... all wrong things in us.. For example. I longed for woman -being a woman-, but it is not anymore now... because the Treu Gospel satisfies completely.. God made all the earth.. sooooo beautiful. SOOOO He knknows too the best rules for life..!! So what ever problem, when we really give God a chance and pray and want seriously live for Him, He helps us and makes us more happy than y ever could think...

    Posted by: lauren | Apr 28, 2014 3:07:29 PM

  24. I am black, I feel like I was born in the wrong body, I think I'm white,I hate rap music and fried chicken, I'm going to buy harsh chemicals to bleach my dark skin, dye my hair blonde, and start wearing blue contact lens, SELF HATE, equivalent to what trannies do.bye

    Posted by: bruno | Jul 30, 2014 6:15:32 PM

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