It was one of the most iconic images of 2015.
A woman in a white bustier with a half-smile on her lips, looking saucily down the lens of the camera.
Arms back, bust forward, it was an image of confidence. An image of a woman who is comfortable, sexy and feminine.
Caitlyn Jenner’s cover of Vanity Fair with the headline “Call me Caitlyn” defined a year in which the trans* community was more visible than ever, where high-profile people talked about their identity, and refused to be defined by the idea of only two life-long options for their gender.
2015 wasn’t the year that people suddenly forgot which bathrooms to use.
And it wasn’t the year that being transgender or gender diverse was invented – there have always been people whose genitals haven’t defined how they feel.
But it was the year we started seriously talking about the notion that, for many people, the gender they were allocated at birth doesn’t fit how they feel inside.
We started to see transgender people on our TVs. Importantly, we started seeing trans* characters on TV actually played by actors who themselves identify as transgender. Sophia on Orange Is The New Black (on Netflix) was played with touching nuance by Laverne Cox, and Jamie Clayton played a trans* hacker in one of the most healthy and supportive relationships on TV in Sense8 (also on Netflix).
The Amazon series, Transparent (shown in Australia on Stan), won two Golden Globes in January and five Emmys in September – with a Best Actor Golden Globe and Emmy for Jeffrey Tambor, who plays the lead – a transwoman named Maura, a retired political science professor who comes out to her family about always identifying as a woman, despite living as a man their entire lives.
This year, some prominent brands went gender-neutral. Facebook provides more than 70 gender options and allows users to choose their pronouns. In August, Target removed gender-based signs in bedding and toy aisles. Clothing ranges, underpants, fragrances – all started to embrace the idea that gender is less and less relevant to what people actually enjoy.
In an interview in June 2015, Ruby Rose schooled everyone on what it means to be gender fluid: “I’m not a guy; I don’t really feel like a woman, but obviously I was born one. So, I’m somewhere in the middle, which – in my perfect imagination – is like having the best of both sexes.”
Also in June 2015, Miley Cyrus announced that she was gender fluid: “I’m just equal,” she said. “I’m just even. It has nothing to do with any parts of me or how I dress or how I look. It’s literally just how I feel… Being a girl isn’t what I hate, it’s the box that I get put into.”
Transgender model Andreja Pejic became the first transgender model to be featured in Vogue. Loiza Lamers, a transwoman, won Holland’s Next Top Model. In March 2015, 15-year-old YouTube superstar Jazz Jennings was the first transgender teen to appear in a Clean and Clear skincare commercial, and she had her own reality TV show (I am Jazz) started in July 2015.