There is no doubt that the fashion industry has a long way to go when it comes to transgender representation.
Coming out as a transgender model was once enough reason to end a modelling career. However, some brands are now actively seeking to work with people who are openly and proudly transgender. There has been progress made with popular brands such as Chanel and Victoria’s Secret both using transgender models as major faces in their campaigns.
Transgender people have a long and complex history in the modelling industry. In the 1960s, April Ashely was the earliest trans women in the modelling industry and became a transgender icon featured in Vogue magazine. But she was instantly dropped after a British newspaper revealed her transgender identity under the headline ‘Her’ secret is out’.
It is only 10 years since trans models have been making headlines in the fashion industry. In 2010, Lea T, a Brazilian model who was one of the trans fashion’s original pioneers presenting in the Givenchy ad. In 2015, Andreja Pejic became a trans model profiling in Vogue. Since then, the name such as Hari Nef and Theodora Quinlivan have started appearing in different media campaigns.
Transgender Men in Fashion
Meanwhile, there are very few appearances of transgender male models, notably, it is still considerably rare until now. Much of the focus in the industry focuses on the trans women on the runway but there is a number of trans men hoping to have continue creating a reputable name in the modelling world. Canada’s Krow Kian stepped out from the Louis Vuitton show in 2019, marking a significant shift in the fashion industry. This was seen as the models ‘rebirth’ as a transgender male model on an international stage.
“Getting back into modeling and being a male model, I definitely have a lot more visibility and especially being a trans model, I think, has brought a lot of attention. So, yeah, my career is definitely doing a lot better than it did the first time as a female,” Krow said to WWD in an interview.
Breaking the boundaries
It is a huge step towards the right direction driving trans visibility into the public eye within the fashion industry. The story behind the many of the popular brands we know and love celebrate models who persisted despite years of society’s ongoing discrimination and a lack of acceptance in the industry. Thankfully, the industry begins its biggest step to change from the conformity of gender norms.
While we recognise that there still is a long way to go in solidifying the diversity and visibility present in the industry, it is evident that the fashion industry is attempting to embracing trans models in all its forms and variations.
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