12 Incredibly Beautiful Women (Who Were Actually Born as Men)

This year has been an amazing moment in time for the transgender community. Not only has there been a shift within mainstream American media — Laverne Cox‘s visibility as well as her accolades for being on Orange Is the New Black is but one example — but we have also seen great progress for individuals being allowed to self-determine their own gender without having to face regulation of their bodies and existence by others.

There are now even some state and federal legal recourse for incidents of discrimination; at least, for people who understand their rights and have access to assistance. On the surface, it appears that the trans community is finally starting to be acknowledged everywhere in the US (not just in blue states but in purple and red ones), as well as all around the globe.

But that’s necessarily the case. Incidents against trans people are as high as ever. In just the first four months of 2014, the Transgender Violence Tracking Portal (TVTP) logged 102 acts of violence against transgender people. And these are just the ones that got reported; countless others go unreported.

The reasons for this violence and discrimination seem to stem from that old adage that we fear what we don’t understand. So, with that in mind, we wanted to show that transgender people are just like everyone else. They are also not afraid of being themselves and truly living life the way it’s meant to be lived: honestly.

We’ve selected 12 trans women, some of whom are considered role models for facing serious oppression in their lives, and rising above it. Others in this group are viewed as trailblazers because they have become huge successes in their fields.

Check them out! These women are a testament to the fact that being true to who you are is the most beautiful thing in the world.