Caitlyn Jenner's interview and cover in the July issue of Vanity Fair has dominated the national conversation since hitting newsstands, and given the issues still facing the transgender community, the conversation isn't close to over.

Caitlyn Jenner's interview and cover in the July issue of Vanity Fair has dominated the national conversation since hitting newsstands, and given the issues still facing the transgender community, the conversation isn't close to over.

According to several national surveys and studies, the transgender community experiences violence, poverty and homelessness at a disproportionately higher rate than other groups; and it's even worse for transgender women of color. Transgender community leaders in Columbus hope the positive attention Jenner and other transgender public figures have garnered will bring the issues transgender people face into focus, and work as a catalyst for positive change on real issues.

"Seeing [actress] Laverne Cox and Caitlyn Jenner on the cover of magazines is a positive thing for a lot of transgender teens, and even adults," said Liam Gallagher, transgender outreach coordinator of Stonewall Columbus. "With Caitlyn Jenner in particular, the media actually seems to be trying to understand. Instead of focusing on the shock value of the transition, they are focusing on how happy these people are living as their authentic selves. I've never felt the community was ready to talk about it before, but Caitlyn Jenner was the tipping point. People are learning how to talk about trans issues, and that's better for everyone. "

Moving past the "coming out" story and sensationalized "before and after" photos that were once the norm is a positive step according to Gallagher, but he hopes the stories of Jenner and Cox don't become a one-size-fits-all narrative for the trans community.

"We need to talk about the idea of gender on a spectrum. A lot of people see Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox and think that is everyone's experience. Caitlyn Jenner is an anomaly in the trans community because her transition went very quickly. There is a perception that transitions happen quickly and go very smoothly, but in reality everyone is on a different time line," Gallagher said. "Some people come out at four years old, others come out at 80. It's a diverse community - as a community organizer, I will have a group of trans folks in a room, and our trans identity is the only thing we have in common."

Columbus resident and transgender woman Leah Schumann believes positive exposure for the trans community isn't just a nice change of pace, but a necessary step toward equality.

"I remember being a teenager, and the only exposure I had to a transgender person was on the Jerry Springer show," Schumann said. "It was like a circus. People like Laverne Cox, Caitlyn Jenner and [Against Me! singer] Laura Jane Grace are showing the world we are who we say we are. It's a true identity. It's how we feel most comfortable with ourselves."

Recently the transgender community has become more visible than ever. Besides Cox and Jenner, Aydian Dowling was leading an online competition to be on the cover of Men's Health Magazine in April; Dr. Rachel Levine was recently appointed Physician General by the governor's cabinet in Pennsylvania, becoming the highest-ranking transgender woman in the state government's history; in January, Amazon's TV series "Transparent," which starred Jeffrey Tambor as a transitioning woman, won "best television series, musical or comedy" at the Golden Globes; and Miley Cyrus recently started the Happy Hippie Foundation, which aims to help LGBTQ youth struggling with homelessness, in addition to promoting portraits of transgender and non-binary youth on Instagram as part of the #InstaPride campaign.

Despite the increased visibility and widespread support for Jenner and other transgender public figures, trans-specific issues like sexual and physical violence, homelessness and unemployment weigh heavily on the community as a whole. The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs reported in 2011 that transgender people were 28 percent more likely to experience physical violence than cisgender people (those who identify with the gender they were assigned at birth), and the National Center for Transgender Equality has reported nearly one in five transgender people have experienced homelessness at some point. To Gallagher, the discrimination against transgender people and the issues it causes should be at the forefront of the discussion.

"When we're looking at what our big narrative is for the LGBTQ community, we're talking marriage equality. I appreciate that, but I think there are bigger issues; discrimination laws and policies being one. Some of my biggest concerns we have are about getting access to housing, healthcare and employment," Gallagher said.

According to the Transgender Law and Policy Institute, only 16 states and the District of Columbia have explicit transgender non-discrimination laws. Without protection, transgender people face more obstacles acquiring housing and jobs, which is why the National Center for Transgender Equality says transgender people experience twice the rate of unemployment as the general population.

"The transgender community is a visible population. Often, people can visually tell you are a transgender person. We talk about 'gay-dar' in this hilarious way, but people can't always tell if somebody is gay, straight or bisexual just from looking at them," Gallagher said. "It becomes problematic when you go to sign a lease, and the landlord can tell you are trans, and suddenly the place isn't available anymore. It can be very difficult to find a job, especially if you are at the beginning stages of your transition."

Healthcare is also a huge concern for Gallagher and the trans community. Procedures most insurance companies approve for cisgender people are denied for transgender people, even if the procedure is medically necessary, he said.

"I needed a surgical procedure that had nothing to do with my trans identity. But because I am trans, the insurance company assumed I just wanted [the procedure] done; they didn't believe I actually needed it," he said. "I happened to get lucky and get it covered, but I know other individuals who weren't able to, and suddenly they had a $57,000 medical bill. When you can't get a job, how do you pay that?"

Beyond the larger issues that affect the trans community, daily life can hold a fair share of obstacles.

"We talk about big-time issues, but we don't think about day-to-day things. Dating as a trans person is terrifying. You think about things like how can I get to a bathroom in public and feel safe," Gallagher said. "I understand many people are curious about transgender people, but I wish people would think before they ask me really personal questions right off the top of their head."

Gallagher and Schumann feel the shift in how the trans community is perceived is undeniable, and will hopefully make it easier for them and others like them to live authentically.

"This next year is going to be the gender frontier," Gallagher said. "I'm positive for the future."