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Transgender equality is one of the main civil rights struggles of our era, and it's certainly having a cultural moment. Make that many moments. Transgender has become a household word with the Emmy nomination of Laverne Cox of Orange Is the New Black, the recent opening of an exclusively trans modeling agency and Caitlyn Jenner's launch of a surprisingly informative reality show featuring trailblazers like Candis Cayne and Kate Bornstein. This is the case even in homes that didn't know the trans community existed until Chaz Bono competed on Dancing with the Stars.
In many ways, Broadway and Off-Off Broadway have been receptive to the fight for transgender visibility and equality, even more so mainstream TV and movies, which only recently jumped on the bandwagon. Since the '60s, openly transgender actresses like Candy Darling and Holly Woodlawn have graced downtown stages. And in more recent decades, genderqueer artists such as Justin Vivian Bond, Taylor Mac and Bianca Leigh have written and performed their work, often casting their peers.
While cross-dressing is a proud theatrical tradition dating back centuries and drag queens have been the belles of Broadway since La Cage aux Folles hit the stage, transgender roles are rare for characters whose everyday gender identity doesn't match their birth sex or who don't fit into binary roles. Here are 10 NYC stage shows that have challenged so-called gender norms.