By Katrina Tiktinsky
It’s Pride Month, and as we collectively recall LGBTQ+ history, and consider the particular challenges faced by these community members in our present society, it’s evident there’s much work to be done. Pride Month commemorates the 1969 Stonewall Riots, which found a leader in Marsha P. Johnson. Johnson was a black drag queen who ultimately identified as transgender. The NYPD originally ruled her premature death a suicide, but activists later called for a reopening of the case, and the police reclassified the cause of death as undetermined. The invaluable lives of trans people continue to face an especially disproportional high risk of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and violence so extreme as murder.
Vogue and the fashion industry at large have come under fire recently, and specifically in the midst of Black Lives Matter protests, for their failure to elevate minority figures. This lack of representation is symptomatic of broader systems of prejudice. And it’s important to remember the human cost of this prejudice, sometimes more insidious oppression, sometimes quite obvious violence. The fashion industry is inexcusably overdue when it comes to championing diversity in meaningful ways. With this context in mind, 360 has compiled a list of a few transgender models to watch — follow them on social media, support them, and (if you’re in the fashion world) cast them!
Isis King: Instagram | Wikipedia | Agency
The first trans woman on America’s Next Top Model (2008), King has modeled as the face of American Apparel, and created her own fashion line. She has transitioned toward acting, appearing in Netflix’s When They See Us.
Leyna Bloom: Instagram | Wikipedia
A model, dancer, and activist, Bloom was the first openly transgender model to walk in New York Fashion Week (2017), as well as the first trans woman of color on the cover of Vogue India. She broke a third record, as the first trans woman of color in a leading role for a movie featured at a major film festival (Port Authority, at Cannes). Her roots are in the Chicago ballroom world, but she moved to New York as a teenager to pursue modeling.
Andreja Pejić: Instagram | Wikipedia | Agency
Pejić became the first trans woman to sign a cosmetics contract, to appear on multiple magazine covers, and to headline a campaign for Bonds. She has modeled both men and women’s clothing.
Valentina Sampaio: Instagram | Wikipedia | Agency
The first transgender woman to model for Victoria’s Secret, less than a year after the CMO declared he would never hire a trans model. Sampaio has also graced Elle, Vanity Fair Italia, and Vogue Brasil covers.
Nathan Westling: Instagram | Wikipedia | Agency
Westling has modeled for the likes of Versace and Dior, as well as gracing major magazine covers. Business of Fashion named him one of the 500 most influential figures in the industry. He began his modeling career in 2015, quickly gained steam as a top female model, and transitioned in 2019.
Teddy Quinlivan: Instagram | Wikipedia | Agency
Quinlivan was discovered by Louis Vuitton’s Nicholas Ghesquière in 2015, and named the first openly transgender model to be the face of Chanel Beauty in 2019. She is a staunch advocate for the trans community in the fashion world and beyond. She has modeled for the likes of Jeremy Scott and Diane Von Furstenberg.
Chella Man: Instagram | Wikipedia | Agency
Man is another record-breaker, the first deaf transgender model to sign to a major agency (IMG Models). He is an advocate for the deaf-trans community, and has shared his life story openly with the hopes of aiding others. Man portrayed deaf superhero Jericho in DC’s Titans.
Lea T (Leandra Medeiros Cerezo): Instagram | Wikipedia | Agency
“Lea T” became the first openly trans face of Givenchy in 2010, and the first openly trans face of Redken in 2014. She remains a muse to former Givenchy creative director Riccardo Tisci. She has posed for French Vogue and LOVE.
Hunter Schafer: Instagram | Wikipedia | Agency
A model with an exhaustive resume that includes Dior and Erdem, Schafer has also forayed into acting. She plays Jules opposite Zendaya in the critically-acclaimed HBO series Euphoria.
Indya Moore: Instagram | Wikipedia | Agency
Like Schafer, Moore has expanded beyond her high-end fashion career into the world of acting. They now star as Angel Evangelista in Pose. Moore has modeled for Gucci and Dior, and posed for Vogue España. They are the first openly trans person to have posed for the cover of Elle.
Laith Ashley: Instagram | Wikipedia | Agency
Ashley also starred in Pose, a show that has cast the most transgender actors in lead roles of any scripted series ever. Ashley modeled in a viral Calvin Klein underwear campaign, and has walked runways for numerous top designers. He is also a recording musician.
Ines Rau: Instagram | Wikipedia | Agency
The first out trans woman to appear as Playboy’s Playmate centerfold, Rau has modeled for major labels like Balmain, and has posed for Vogue Italia.
Hari Nef: Instagram | Wikipedia | Agency
IMG Worldwide’s first trans model, Nef has walked for Eckhaus Latta and Adam Selman. She has acted in You and Assassination Nation. Nef is the first openly trans person to land the cover of a major British Magazine.