This week, two former Disney child actors have come out as their true selves.
In an essay published in Time magazine on Aug. 20, Josie Totah came out as transgender. The 17-year-old — formerly known as J.J. Totah — is best known for her recurring role on the Disney Channel series, Jessie and more recently as Mindy Kaling’s child on the NBC series Champions.
Within the same day, fellow Disney actor Garrett Clayton came out as gay via Instagram. Clayton played Tanner in the 2013 Disney film, Teen Beach Movie. Since then, he’s portrayed a gay porn actor in the movie King Cobra and his upcoming film, REACH, features the 27-year-old playing the role of a bullied gay teenager, contemplating suicide.
“REACH deals with some very serious and timely topics that have affected me personally,” Clayton wrote on his Instagram post — where he revealed that he has been in a relationship with a man named Blake Knight for “a long time” and that he has experienced bullying and suicidal thoughts. “This film has come from the perspectives of people who care deeply about these issues, and if watching it helps even one person... then it was all worth it.”
For both actors, their Monday revelations would serve as a fresh start.
"I plan to play roles I haven't had the opportunity to play," Totah said in her essay. "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."
Totah clarified that she identified as female, “specifically as a transgender female,” and that her pronouns are she, her and hers.
Her Champions co-star and on-screen mom, Mindy Kaling, expressed her support for Totah on Twitter.
“I love you, Josie,” Kaling wrote. “I’m so glad you’re able to speak your truth and live as your authentic self. You’re also so damn talented - I can’t wait to write for you again!”
Clayton’s Instagram announcement also received plenty of support, garnering over 57,000 likes in less than 24 hours.