Profiles of Transgender Courage: Gigi Gorgeous

Giselle Lazzarato (better known as Gigi Gorgeous.) is a Canadian transwoman best known for being an internet personality through the medium of YouTube, but also is an actress and model. She has appeared in music videos, internet television series, a variety of traditional television shows (mostly news programs, reality series, awards shows or interviews.), three short films, and a documentary about her transition entitled This Is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous. Lately, she has inspired controversy among her following for a variety of reasons. Some follow her loyally despite her missteps, while others feel she has lost touch with her own community and has subsequently abandoned their support of her. Regardless of how you feel about her recent actions, comments or public presence...Lazzarato does a great deal of work for the transgender community. Most of which fly under the radar of even her followers. While her internet personality may be a tad outrageous at times, her work behind the scenes makes her more than worthy of acknowledgment in these Profiles of Transgender Courage.

Gigi was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada in 1992. She is one of three children of David and Judith Lazzarato (née Belding). Her family is of Italian, Lebanese and French heritage and she was raised Roman Catholic, a religion she still practices. In her younger life, she experienced success achieving national rank as a diving champion. She attended Catholic primary and secondary schools and later attended George Brown College, eventually leaving that school to focus on her YouTube Career.

Gigi started her career on YouTube identifying as a gay male and uploaded videos of her make-up tutorials. While many makeup tutorial channels existed at the time, Gigi's gained a following partly because she identified as a gay male doing makeup videos(which was relatively unheard of at the time and she had quite the knack for it), but mostly (in my opinion) because she had such a magnetic and fun personality that inspired love and confidence to all her viewers. In 2011, she announced she would be starring in a YouTube-based reality series called The Avenue. The show lasted until the early spring of 2013. Between the start and end of that series (February 2012), Gigi's mother passed away of Leukemia. In 2016, she identified as a lesbian and began dating her current partner Nats Getty. The two can be seen together in the photo to the right. (They're so cute together!)

At the end of 2013, Lazzarato came out to her following as a transgender woman. She has undergone a variety of surgeries to feel more comfortable with her body. In 2014 she legally changed her name to Giselle. She was interviewed by People Magazine in September 2015. In the interview, she credited transgender model Amanda Lepore and her mother's death for sparking her transition, the latter of which is echoed in the documentary This Is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous. In 2014 she received LogoTV's  Trailblazing Social Creator Award for her work advocating for LGBT youth. In 2015 she won a Streamy Award for "Best Beauty Series".

Gigi has used her internet celebrity to bring awareness to transgender issues, often commenting on various subjects involving the trans experience and current events that have surrounded and affected the community. In 2016, she was detained in the United Arab Emirates and had her passport taken by immigration officers and airport officials at Dubai International Airport. She was denied entry into the country because the government does not recognize her gender as legitimate and there is disagreement between Lazzarato and Dubai officials as to what gender her passport states she is. ( Believe her. She comes from a country that is far more progressive in such issues.) She was detained for five hours and released. After her release, she embarked for Sweden. Fans and supporters called for her release and a reform in anti-LGBT laws with the hashtag #JusticeForGigi. And Gigi responded calling for protections and equality for LGBTQ people. It is not the first time a transgender woman has been detained in Dubai. In 2014 two Brazilian transwomen also had their passports taken and were detained.

Recently, Gigi has been campaigning to raise funds for Children’s Hospital Center For Transyouth Health And Development, a Los Angeles-based organization that provides hormonal intervention, mental health and HIV prevention services, family and peer support, and other advocacy resources for gender non-conforming kids. On October 29, 2017, she hosted a Halloween event at Bootsy Bellows called "CarnEvil For Good". All proceeds from the event are set to benefit the center. She also has organized a GoFundMe Campaign for those who can’t attend but still wish to contribute to the cause. Stating “Now is the time to invest in lifesaving care and clinical research so that every child has the opportunity to embrace and express his or her authentic self,” she wrote on the campaign page. In just two days, Lazzarato has raised roughly $19,400 of her $30,000 goal from a total of nine donors.Funds will also be allocated to educating school administrators and teachers about transgender issues, helping patients who want to change their names or genders on their driver’s licenses, and to field denials from insurance companies who refuse to cover hormone-blockers or other treatments. The GoFundMe can be found here. She has also been announced as a social media correspondent for MTV's TRL reboot.

Gigi is one of the most influential (not to mention beautiful) transwomen of the modern era. Her work is crucial to more vulnerable sections of the transgender community and her very open and honest transition in a public way was enormously brave. So I'm going to end this by saying one of her most popular catchphrases... with a slight alteration. Stay Courageous Gigi.


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