Transgender Modelling Is Breaking Boundaries

  • Amy Bebbington

Gender fluidity is explored in fashion campaigns worldwide. Transgender models are accepted into the industry with the introduction of specialist agencies launching hopefuls careers. The inclusion of transgender models is a move towards diversity eradicating gender stereotypes. Although, gender ambiguity is welcomed into the industry with key figures leading the movement there is still a long way to go.

What Is Transgender Modelling?

Transgender is the term used for those whose identity does not match their gender at birth opting to live as the opposite sex. The fashion world has slowly begun to accept transgender models allowing for individuals to feature in campaigns and ads. Therefore, a new niche has been created for transgender modelling with agencies, photographers and designers responding accordingly. It is a shift in the industry to accommodate a diverse, modern society that is certainly a step in the right direction yet has room for improvements.


What to Do If You Are Questioning Your Identity

Many young individuals at some point growing up question themselves feeling insecure and explore their gender. However, it is not a decision to take lightly as transgender models are 100% certain that they are in fact, the opposite sex trapped in the wrong body. If you feel strongly about this do not suffer in silence or take action immediately. Try to open up to somebody whether a friend, relative or doctor to express how you are feeling to allow yourself time to make sense of your emotions. It is not a decision to take lightly and there is no pressure to make a choice straight away. Take your time as once you have the correct information and are certain of your identity can you take action.

Acceptance Is Important

With transgender modelling increasing considerably the awareness has spiralled allowing for young minds to accept their struggle rather than hide away in silence. It is no longer taboo, yet celebrated by many with a lot of individuals being very open and frank about their experience. This attitude should help others in their quest to find themselves and explore their gender. The breaking down of boundaries have left many panicked that impressionable young minds will be persuaded to undergo regrettable alterations. However, the stages that an individual has to face will uncover any uncertainties or the need to follow a crowd immediately.


Transgender model, Andrej Pejic explains: “I understand how difficult it is for parents when a child wants to do something so drastic, especially if they’re under 18. But the percentage of people who go back is very small. And you have to ask, are people really going to see psychiatrists, take medication and undergo complicated, expensive surgery just to be on-trend.”

Transgender Modelling Agencies

Currently, the demand for transgender models is small yet specialist agencies are working to find more opportunities. Organisations are easily signing talent yet the amount of work is very limited.

Author of He or She?, Vikki Le explains “It is like back in the ‘80s when they had one black model on every runway and that’s it.”

It seems that the token transgender model exists in the industry yet total acceptance where an individual is chosen for their potential alone remains to be witnessed. A time for when designers include a transgender model without highlighting the fact for the ‘shock’ factor and to gain more exposure is saught after.


The type of agencies range from small niche establishments to larger companies recognising the need for representation. With support from industry professionals, the likelihood that transgender models will continue to feature on the runway and in campaigns on a regular basis is very hopeful.

Successful Transgender Models

Andrej Pejic

Becoming one of the most recognised transgender models Andrej Pejic has broken many boundaries. She has experienced a lot of firsts as a transgender model carving a path for others to follow in her footsteps.

  • At 17, Andrej was scouted as a male model.
  • Three years later she featured in both Jean Paul Gaultier’s male and female collections in Paris.
  • Pejic featured in the FHM 100 Sexiest Women in the World list.
  • She has become the first openly transgender model to be profiled by American Vogue.
  • Her Make Up For Ever campaign is known as the first cosmetics ad to feature a transgender model.

Laith-Ashley de la Cruz

“I want to show the world there’s not just one way to be trans, just like there’s not one way to be anything.”

  • His muscular physique, designer stubble and emerald green eyes have secured opportunities for the 25 year old.
  • During New York Fashion Week he walked for Adrian Alicea and Gypsy Sport.
  • He featured in Barney’s New York campaign with fashion photographer Bruce Weber.
  • His success as a model has allowed for people to recognise him, which both excites and shocks him.

Transgender Models Opportunities

The high fashion industry is where transgender models grace the runway and front campaigns. This niche breeds off new, exciting trends that standout from the norm. Featuring a transgender model is original, unique and rare, which will publicise the brand further and demand attention; certainly a positive move in the right direction yet more opportunities are required to inspire those looking for a similar route.


Commercial modelling is unlikely to hire a transgender model due to the niche taking a safer direction afraid to offend. Their approach seeks an accessible, conventional look without trying to rock the boat; a proven formula that takes longer to adapt. However, it is common knowledge that the high fashion industry filters down into the commercial world making the possibility of more opportunities promising. Therefore, as a transgender model expect more roles in the high fashion world for the time being.

The Need For Transgender Models

[ctt template=”3″ link=”p2n5a” via=”no” ]“Seeing more trans people in print and in the media makes it a little easier because now people know what it is. But have attitudes changed?[/ctt] I don’t think so. Not that much. It’s going to take a lot more.” states Vikki Le.

Raising awareness of transgender people in the fashion world is essential for society to understand  and accept the concept. Previously, a taboo word, the modelling industry has successfully allowed for individuals to be aware of our diverse world. By continuously featuring transgender models in fashion campaigns negative attitudes will also alter significantly; an open minded, modern attitude is required to embrace gender fluidity. No longer do firm boundaries exist as we move into a contemporary era that does not discriminate towards a genderless future.

Young models who battle with conflict regarding their identity will gain confidence and inspiration from the transgender shots; a responsibility to support and guide confused individuals. Those who feel alone and suffer in silence will gain a sense of freedom and courage from successful transgender models. Finally witnessing images that they can relate to and identify with holds an incredible importance in a modern society.


Transgender modelling is present in the fashion world yet the worry is that the trend will be short lived. The industry welcomes crazes and disregards them just as quick. Hopefully, transgender modelling will be here to stay with models and activists campaigning for a diverse modelling industry. The internet has been a fantastic resource to connect those who would usually be alone creating a force that can break boundaries. The pressure to choose a gender category has been removed with a more flexible approach.

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Posted by Amy Bebbington

I express my love of fashion through writing, blogging and styling. My creative personality ensures that I produce unique and original work. I am a keen knitter and enthusiatic dancer.