The singer and YouTube sensation formerly known as Charice Pempengo – who landed a regular role on season two of Glee – is finally able to be his most authentic self. On Sunday, the Filipino star announced that he will now go by the name Jake Zyrus, a new moniker that reflects his male gender identity.
https://www.instagram.com/p/BVeBRAqgNbo/embed/captioned/?cr=1&v=7&wp=578#%7B%22ci%22%3A0%2C%22os%22%3A3040.75%7DThe next day, Zyrus ventured further into the social media realm using his new name, tentatively tweeting, “My first tweet as Jake. Overwhelmed. Saw all your love comments and I’m so happy. Finally. I love you, everyone and see you soon.” As an added note, he wrote in a subsequent tweet, “I won’t let anyone ruin this moment. I won’t let anyone ruin my happiness. Thank you to all the beautiful write ups about me.”
The singer declined to be interviewed for this story.
Though Zyrus had not fully come out as transgender prior to Sunday, he did make mention of his constant struggles with gender identity in a 2014 interview with Oprah Winfrey, one year after coming out as gay.
“I knew when I was five,” he told Winfrey at the time of his attraction to girls. “I was in grade school and I saw this girl, and I felt different. I didn’t know what it was, but I just knew … it felt special. And when I was 10, I was like, ‘Oh, that’s it. I’m gay.’ I found the word for who I really am.”
At that point, Winfrey asked whether the singer had ever considered himself transgender. “Were you thinking about, like, transitioning to become a male?” the talk show host asked.
“Not exactly transitioning to, like, a male-male,” Zyrus said at the time. “Basically, my soul is male, but I’m not going to go through that stage where I’m going to change everything. I’ll cut my hair and wear boy clothes and everything, but that’s all.”
Zyrus was the first Asian solo singer in history to land in the Top 10 of the Billboard 200 albums chart when he released his 2010 album, Charice, which debuted at No. 8. Prior to his stint on Glee, Zyrus had already made appearances on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and Winfrey’s former talk show, and even performed alongside Celine Dion at Madison Square Garden at the age of 16.