This Young Star Came Out As Transgender And Got Lots Of Love From Her TV Mom

"I'm ready to be free."

You may have thought you knew Josie Totah, but you probably didn't — until now, that is. The former Champions star, who previously went by the name J.J. Totah professionally, just came out as transgender in an essay for TIME.


In the deeply intimate piece, Totah points out how people kept assuming her identity both growing up in Northern California, and since making it big in Hollywood. She felt "shoved into a box" of being a gay boy, nobody ever really stopping to ask how she felt, and that this sometimes felt like a duty for her to fulfill. "But that has never been the way I think of myself," Totah notes.

"I know now, more than ever, that I'm finally ready to take this step toward becoming myself," Totah continues, recalling her sort-of correction to people that she was simply part of the LGBTQ community. "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."

This is something Totah has known since she was five, before "gender" was even in her vocabulary, explaining that this isn't something that just happened or a choice that was just made. It was when Totah watched I Am Jazz, featuring transgender teen activist Jazz Jennings, that the realization set in for good.

Credit: Evans Vestal Ward/NBC

From there, Totah — with the love and support of her mom — started the journey to becoming who she was meant to be. While that's wonderful, there are many anxieties and fears that she has dealt with and will likely continue to deal with like other transgender people. At the end of the day, being called Josie by friends and family makes her feel seen and understood. She doesn't feel like she was put in the wrong body or that God made a mistake, it's just that her life was meant for a bigger purpose: to help others become more accepting.

Though Totah has had roles on shows like Glee as well as in films like Other People and Spider-Man: Homecoming, she is headed off to college now but promises her acting career will continue — this time just more authentically.

"I plan to play roles I haven't had the opportunity to play," Totah concludes. "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. 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."

One such person who is looking forward to maybe providing one of those roles is none other than Mindy Kaling, Totah's onscreen mom from Champions. Kaling, who co-created that short-lived NBC series, took to Twitter to voice support for her TV child and say she looks forward to working together again.

Kaling isn't the only one, though, and others have sent their words of encouragement as well:


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