The teenage star of Mindy Kaling's short-lived NBC sitcom "Champions" comes out as transgender three years after beginning the transition process.
Hollywood has a new transgender female actor on the roster. But Josie Totah has actually been busy steadily racking up credits since 2012 as J.J. Totah, who played Myron Muskovitz on four episodes of "Glee" in 2015 before securing a starring role on short-lived NBC comedy series "Champions."
The 17-year-old performer came out Monday morning in a Time op-ed titled, "My Name Is Josie Totah — And I'm Ready to Be Free."
"My pronouns are she, her and hers. I identify as female, specifically as a transgender female," Totah declared in the piece, which begins with her expressing how she believes she had been typecast as a "gay boy" without ever actually living by that identity.
"I found myself playing that role once I got into the entertainment industry, and people kept assuming my identity," she wrote. "Numerous reporters have asked me in interviews how it feels to be a young gay man. I was even introduced that way before receiving an award from an LGBTQ+ rights organization. I understand that they didn’t really know better. I almost felt like I owed it to everybody to be that gay boy. But that has never been the way I think of myself."
Totah explains although she "always knew on some level that I was female," she didn't embrace the identity until watching TLC's Jazz Jennings docuseries, "I Am Jazz," three years ago when she was 14, the same age Jennings was in the series as she underwent medical transition.
"As I learned more information about hormone replacement therapy, I knew that this was what I had to do," Totah wrote. "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."
Mindy Kaling, who co-created the show "Champions," was thrilled to read the piece and shared it with her followers.
I love you, Josie. I’m so glad you’re able to speak your truth and live as your authentic self. You’re also so damn talented - I can’t wait to write for you again! ❤️💕❤️💕❤️ https://t.co/OjIoI9Wpb3— Mindy Kaling (@mindykaling) August 20, 2018
Totah is preparing to head to college as an out and proud transgender woman, and hopes to start scoring roles as one, too.
"And I can only imagine how much more fun it’s going to be to play someone who shares my identity, rather than having to contort myself to play a boy," she concluded. "I’m going to gun for those roles, be it a transgender female or a cisgender female. Because it’s a clean slate —- and a new world."
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