Former Disney Channel Star Comes Out as Transgender in Powerful Essay

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It’s the week of living your authentic self. Just hours after Teen Beach Movie star Garrett Clayton came out as gay, another Disney Channel alum decided to speak her truth.

Josie Totah, previously known as J.J. Totah, has acted on shows such as Jessie, Champion, Glee and many more. She was always open about being a part of the LGBTQ+ community, but there was still something she was hiding — she’s transgender.

josie jj totah transgender

Disney Channel

The 17-year-old actress came out as a trans woman in a powerful Time essay, which was published yesterday.

She writes, in part, “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.”

My pronouns are she, her and hers. I identify as female, specifically as a transgender female. And my name is Josie Totah.”

Josie explains that “this is not something that just happened.” In fact, she told her mom she wished was a girl when she was just 5 years old, but didn’t know what that meant in terms of gender identity. Everything started making sense to the young star about three years ago, however, when she watched the show I Am Jazz, which is about a transgender teenager named .

“As I learned more information about hormone replacement therapy, I knew that this was what I had to do. I looked over at her in the middle of the show and said, ‘This is me. I’m transgender. And I need to go through this.’ My mother, who is immensely supportive and gracious, said, ‘Okay, let’s do it.’ Three days later I was meeting with my pediatrician, who referred me to a specialist, who put me on a hormone blocker. From that point on, I hit the ground running.”

The teenager says she feels like she’s “being seen” for the first time ever, and her former co-stars and fellow celebs are jumping to show her as much support as possible.

Congratulations, Josie!