“I believe that I am transgender to help people understand differences.”
You may have gotten to know J.J. Totah through acting roles in some of your favorite TV shows and movies, like Glee, Liv & Maddie, and Jessie.
But now, the actor is letting us get to know who she really is – a transgender female named Josie Totah.
In a beautiful and brave new essay for Time magazine, Josie introduced herself to the world and shared a little bit about her personal journey.
“When I was really young, growing up in a small town in Northern California, people would just assume I was gay,” she writes. “On the playground, I was the type of kid who wanted to sing with the girls, not play soccer with the boys. Then I found myself playing that role once I got into the entertainment industry, and people kept assuming my identity.”
It hasn’t been easy, but the star has found it more important than ever to be open and honest with others, in order to truly be herself.
“In the past, I’ve halfway corrected people by telling them I identify as LGBTQ. I wasn’t ready to be more specific,” she explained. “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. So, listen up y’all: You can jump on or jump off. Either way this is where I’m heading.”
Josie shared that there are a lot of unknowns still in her life, and things that scare her. But she has been able to inspire real change just by coming out to her family and friends. Now, she wants to apply this same idea to promoting inclusivity and acceptance beyond her own circle.
“When my friends and family call me Josie, it feels like I’m being seen. It’s something everyone wants, to feel understood,” she shared. “And, as a semi-religious person who went to Catholic school, I have come to believe that God made me transgender. I don’t feel like I was put in the wrong body. I don’t feel like there was a mistake made. I believe that I am transgender to help people understand differences. It allows me to gain perspective, to be more accepting of others, because I know what it feels like to know you’re not like everyone else.”
This is going to be a huge year for Josie in so many ways. First up, she’s starting college super soon – and she is going to be trying out for her first female acting roles. We’ll be rooting for her the whole way!