While the fashion industry continues to move at a snail’s pace when it comes to fighting for diversity, industry leaders like fashion label Chromat and transgender management company Slay models have successfully championed for gender inclusion. Yet still, when you take a look at the most prominent transgender models—those booking the best jobs on the most consistent basis–there isn’t much diversity regarding race.
Here, we highlight 12 transgender models of color who are helping to change that.
Laith Ashley De La Cruz
One of few transgender men of color leading the charge, the top model first hit the scene in 2013 after being featured in a Barney’s campaign photographed by legendary lensman Bruce Weber. Numerous runway shows and magazine appearances would follow suit.
Following her big break on cycle 17 of America’s Next Top Model, Isis went on to star in 2016’s Strut—a Whoopi Goldberg-produced reality show highlighting trans men and women of color. She’d go on to become American Apparel’s first trans spokesmodel.
The Brazilian beauty and L’Oreal Paris spokesmodel stepped into the spotlight on International Women’s Day 2016, when she came out as trans in a video ad for the cosmetics brand. She went on to land ELLE Brazil’s November Cover that same year, becoming the second trans model to cover the publication.
Also known as Leyna Ramous, the Filipino and African-American model, dancer, and transgender activist came out as trans in a 2014 C☆NDY Magazine cover shoot. She would go on to make headlines by closing out athleisure brand Chromat’s Spring 2017 runway show and becoming the first openly transgender woman of color to appear in Vogue India.
Not only has she graced the pages of Forbes, Vogue, Vogue Italia and Purple Magazine, she has also walked the runways during New York, Los Angeles and Miami Fashion Week. She was also the first trans model to grace the cover of 111-year-old American retail catalog Spiegel.
The 18-year old trans, disabled model began sharing her journey of being gender fluid and battling cerebral palsy on her Tumblr blog, Aaronverse and penned a memoir, This Kid Can Fly: It’s About Ability (NOT Disability), at age 14. H&M, ASOS, and Refinery29 have tapped her for ad campaigns.
Making headlines in November 2017 as the first transgender playmate in Playboy magazine’s 64-year history, the French beauty of Algerian descent has also appeared in American Vogue, Italian Vogue and a Balmain campaign. She was also featured in Alexis Bittar’s spring 2014 jewelry campaign and starred in a nude photo shoot in OOB magazine with Tyson Beckford in 2013.
Originally from a strict Muslim family in Dhakar, Bangladesh, Maltese has shared that she always felt trapped in a body that didn’t belong to her. She came out as trans in a 2013 interview for the Toronto Sun where she shared her dream of running for Miss World.
The artist, writer, performer, DJ, and co-founder of the New York-based nightlife project Shock Value has appeared on the runways of fashion brands like DKNY and Hood by Air.
The Filipino-American model and activist is the founder of Gender Proud, an advocacy and aid organization that stands up for the rights of transgender people worldwide. She came out as trans in 2014 while giving a TED talk in honor of International Transgender Day of Visibility.
The Brazilian-born, Italian-raised beauty is the muse of Riccardo Tisci, former creative director of Givenchy—and her professional last name of “T” stands for Tisci. She has been featured in photo shoots for Vogue Paris, Interview Magazine, and Redken. In 2011, she made headlines with a Love Magazine cover shoot that featured her kissing Kate Moss.
The first Pakistani trans person to rise to prominence as a fashion model, in 2016, she starred in a groundbreaking photoshoot protesting the atrocities committed against transgender people in Pakistan. Using her platform to affect change, she continues to give lectures on transphobia and misogyny and advocates for cultural diversity in schools.
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