Josie Totah, who was billed as J.J. Totah while starring on NBC’s midseason comedy Champions this year and the ABC sitcom Back in the Game, announced today that she is a transgender female. The 17-year-old broke the news in an essay for Time magazine headlined, ‘My Name Is Josie Totah — And I’m Ready to Be Free.’
“I realized over the past few years that hiding my true self is not healthy,” she wrote in the article. “I know now, more than ever, that I’m finally ready to take this step toward becoming myself. 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. My pronouns are she, her and hers. I identify as female, specifically as a transgender female. And my name is Josie Totah.”
Totah played Michael Patel on Champions, which was canceled in June after its freshman run, was a regular on ABC’s one-season comedy Back in the Game in 2013-14. As J.J. Totah, she also appeared in last year’s Spider-Man: Homecoming, guested on Disney Channel’s Liv and Maddie and recurring on that cable net’s Jessie. Other credits include Glee, Nina Needs to Go and a voice role in Sofia the First.
“This is not something that just happened,” Totah wrote today. “This is not a choice that I made. When I was five, long before I understood what the word gender meant, I would always tell my mother that I wished I were a girl. Since I could speak in full sentences, I was like, ‘Give me a dress!’ I always knew on some level that I was female. But it crystallized about three years ago when I was a 14-year-old watching the [TLC] show I Am Jazz with my mother.”
Added Totah: “This week, I’m going off to college. I’m also going to continue my acting career, and I am so excited to do both things as myself. I plan to play roles I haven’t had the opportunity to play. 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.”