This month, Time magazine published a cover story titled “The Transgender Tipping Point.” The trend-hungry American press is toppling over with spurious tipping points, but this one is real, and it’s important. Centuries of marginalization mean that the statistics are still shaky, but it is estimated that between 0.1 and 5 percent of the population of earth is trans, genderqueer, or intersex. Whichever way you slice it, that’s millions of human beings. As a species, we have come up with space travel, antibiotics, so it seems rather archaic that so much of our culture, from money and fashion, love and family is still ordered around the idea that people come in two kinds based roughly on the contents of their underpants.
Something enormous is happening in our culture. In the past three years, and especially in the past twelve months, a great many transsexual celebrities, actors and activists have exploded into the public sphere. Some of have taken the brave step of disclosing their trans status after they were already household names, like American presenter Janet Mock, rockstar Laura Jane Grace, athlete Fallon Fox, Oscar-winning director Lana Wachowski or activist and former soldier Chelsea Manning. Others have simply become successful without hiding or apologising for their trans status, like sassy British columnist Paris Lees, or actress Laverne Cox, star of “Orange Is The New Black,” who graced the Time cover as one of a new generation of breakout trans stars.