In pop culture, lovable gay icons have entered my living room through my television screen, characters like Cam and Mitchell — the charismatic gay couple on “Modern Family.”

Ellen Degeneres is a popular talk show host today, but in the 1980s she was black-listed by the entertainment industry after she came out of the closet. This just proves how far we have come. Instead of gay people being thought of as  “them,” the outrageous group of people wearing rainbow, they are members of our community — our  neighbors, friends, relatives.

My next door neighbors, two lesbians, are the best parents I know. I admire them.  

Even the Republican Party is coming around. Former Vice President Dick Cheney recently supported his gay daughter by attending her wedding.

“We are here, we are queer, get used to it!” and indeed we have.

I feel like our country is constantly moving forward, making progress, and I am proud. In 2008, the United States elected its first black president, Barack Obama. By 2014, 35 states had legalized gay marriage. Now in 2015, we have a woman as the frontrunner for the Democratic Party’s 2016 presidential nomination,  but at some point the forward motion stops.

It is my generation’s job to keep us from sliding backwards. The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) community has made amazing progress in the past few years, although I have always thought the “T” in LGBT has been overlooked. That was until I saw a story in Time magazine, “The Gender Tipping Point.”

For the most part, it is no longer a big deal when we learn that someone is gay, but I have noticed a lot of individuals still find themselves uncomfortable with a trans person — someone who identifies with a gender other than the one he or she was assigned to at birth. They are afraid to ask which pronoun the individual would prefer. “She, him, her, his” can cloud the water, but the situation could be avoided just by asking. Our country has finally gotten to the point where being gay is accepted and now the ball is rolling for “America’s next civil rights frontier.”

The Netflix original series “Orange is the New Black” takes a look into the lives of  a diverse collection of women  from all different walks of life. One actress on the hit show, Laverne Cox, has given insight to many by being an African-American transgender star.

Cox’s character, Sophia, is based on a real woman named Cece McDonald who was sentenced to prison for defending herself from a transphobic attack.

Cox is not only a transgender actress, but she has become a transgender activist as well.

I am a big fan of the show, and Cox’s character Sophia really gave me some perspective. I have never met, known, or encountered a trans person to my knowledge, and OITNB made me understand the depth of Sophia’s story.

Viewers often fall in love with Sophia. You want her to succeed and live authentically. I think what is most admirable about Sophia is her confidence.

Cox has received positive feedback from her character. One blogger even wrote that the storyline had changed her life. This woman did not necessarily approve of trans people and had many misconceptions until she was introduced to Sophia.

Leelah Alcorn was a 17-year-old transgender teenager who tragically took her life in January 2015. The suicide note she left touched many and sparked interest nationally. Her note was thought of as a call to action as she voiced her desire to be a girl.

The saddest part of this story is that Alcorn received support from her peers for the most part, but her parents were the ones who refused to accept who she was. In the note, she begs our generation to “fix society.”

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