geena-roceroManila:  Filipino-American fashion model Geena Rocero who came out as a transgender woman during a prestigious TED Conference has used her story to inspire and help others live their truth without shame and terror.

“Gender identity is in the core of our being. We’re all assigned a gender at birth, so what I’m trying to do is to have this conversation (where) there should be a space that would allow people to self-identify,” Rocero said during a TED Conference on March 31, reported

TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks as a conference where technology, entertainment and design converge.

The Filipino model in the United States said she is proud to tell the world she is a transgender woman and dared the audience to join her in her cause.

“I want to do my best to help others live their truth without shame and terror,” Rocero said. “My deepest truth allowed me to accept who I am. Will you?” she added.

Rocero also launched her petition “Gender Proud,” which, according to its website, envisions a world where all transgender people are able to self-identify with the fewest possible barriers. “You should be allowed to express how you feel, and your legal documentation should match that,” she said.

She has also partnered with “All Out,” a global campaign that challenges anti-gay laws in different countries.

NYIMG_00068_LGRocero said her coming out is not the end, but the beginning  to push LGBT rights forward.

For Rocero, working for equality rights is her way of giving back to the LGBT community that helped her a lot when she was still in the Philippines.

Clad in a sleek dress and high heels, Rocero shared with the audience her experience growing up as a Filipino boy with a girl’s heart.

She used to wear a shirt on her head and pretend she had long hair as a boy in the Philippines. “My mom would ask me, ‘How come you always wear a t-shirt in your head?’ I said, ‘Mom, this is my hair. I’m a girl,” Rocero added.

Rocero became known after winning several gay beauty pageants in the Philippines which began with her first break at the age of 15.

“I won best in swim suit and best in long gown, and placed second runner-up among the 40 plus candidates. That moment changed my life,” Rocero said.

She said she would often attend beauty pageants staged at the back of the truck next to a rice field, and that the event would be moved inside a house in case it rained.

In 2001 when her mother, who moved to California, called her to say her green card to the US was ready she resisted, sharing that she enjoyed touring the Philippines as a pageant queen.

But when her mother said, ‘Did you know that if you moved to the US, you could change your name and gender?’  she required no persuasion. “That was all I needed to hear,” she added.

She had her operation in Thailand when she was 19, and moved to San Francisco in 2011 where she experienced another highlight in her life — the time she received her driver’s license that classifies her as female.

“Some people, their IDs were a license to drive or even to drink,” Rocero said. “But for me, that was my license to live,” she added.

You can watch Geena Rocero’s coming out story on this TED video here: