Champions Star Comes Out as Transgender: 'I'm Ready to Be Free'

Josie Totah Transgender J.J. Totah Champions

The teen actor known as J.J. Totah, who co-starred on the NBC sitcom Champions, has announced that she identifies as a transgender female, and will now be known as Josie Totah.

The 17-year-old actor made the announcement in an essay for Time magazine entitled “My Name Is Josie Totah — And I’m Ready to Be Free.” In it, she details how she was always put into the “gay boy” box growing up as a child performer: “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.” Instead, she says she identifies as female, and has for years, remembering how she was telling her mother how she wished she were a girl from the age of five.

Totah credits the TLC reality series I Am Jazz, starring transgender teen Jazz Jennings, with inspiring her to live her true identity. She acknowledges the difficulties she faces as a transgender female, and admits she fears the moment of judgment she’ll face when changing her IDs to female. “But when my friends and family call me Josie,” she adds, “it feels like I’m being seen.”

In addition to starring in Champions — which was cancelled by NBC in June after just one season — Totah has also appeared on Glee, Jessie and Liv and Maddie. Mindy Kaling, who worked with Totah on Champions, tweeted out her support: