Geena Rocero

* Geena Rocero, from Weeknd‘s music “The Knowing” came out in a TED talk as a trans woman and is advocating for trans rights.

She’s launched, Gender Proud, her organization focused on empowering and raising awareness on trans issues.

She dished to New York Magazine about her coming out and the future of Gender Proud.

Rocero identified as female at a young age and feels as a celebrity, it’s her duty to raise awareness for transgender people.

“I knew I had a bigger purpose,” she says. “It was a disservice to my own community if I didn’t do anything.”

She felt it was her duty to come out and begin advocating.

“I’ve been afraid of telling my story for a long time. I’ve always had this conditioning in my head — like, “Oh, I’ll be ready to talk about this when I have $5 million in my bank account, just in case there’s a backlash.” But about two years ago, I started becoming politically aware of the condition of the transgender community.”

But she didn’t know what to focus on.

“I still didn’t know what to focus on. Is it transgender health? Is it transgender economic empowerment? There are so many different layers. I just went back to my personal experience: There’s nothing more powerful than speaking from your own personal experience,” she said.

Changing her name was empowering for her.

“I know that when I changed my name and gender marker on my documents, that’s what empowered me. Literally looking at my name as “Geena” and “Female,”” she said.

But legal documentation is important to her and other trans people.

“I moved to San Francisco in 2001 but didn’t become a U.S. citizen until 2006. I remember, in 2005, I was traveling from the U.S. to Tokyo — I was not a citizen yet, so I still had my Philippine passport with my male name and my male gender marker,” she said.

She continued with:

“I was going through immigration and the next thing I knew, I was being taken to the immigration office, and being questioned for hours and hours because I presented as a woman. It was embarrassing, it was dehumanizing, and I have friends still going through that,” she said.

And as for Gender Proud, she has big plans for the organization.

“Absolutely. All Out is our first big partner, so the next phase of the campaign is to identify countries that are at potential tipping points with their legislation,” she said.

“We’re forming partnerships with activists and trans-justice LGBT underground organizations all over the world. Eventually, I want to be the first transgender ambassador of the U.N. ”

Read more of the interview here.

Watch her TED talk below: