Transgender models have had trouble finding work within the modeling community due to the lack of inclusion in the fashion industry. Some Transgender models have found opportunities with other identifiers such as alternative modeling to try and avoid discrimination within the modeling world. As acceptance and understanding of the trans community grow, Transgender fashion models are beginning to find a home within the fashion modeling industry. While the fashion world has started to embrace more trans people, they have become more visible recently with the use of social media tools such as Instagram to gain visibility.
With models like Andrej Pejic and Peche Di, there are growing opportunities for models who work outside of the traditional gender lines. Transgender modeling opportunity has become possible due to social activism and new media marketing using social media platforms. One of the most significant challenges for Transgender models is still exposure. Transgender models still face challenges in finding photographers and both professional and amateur opportunities within the fashion world.
The prevalence of high profile trans models and entertainers, as well as the growth of exposure through social media, has made for a more receptive environment. Many of these Transgender models have a strong sense of pride in their identity and work, which might be the most significant theme of the trans community in the 21st century. Ultimately those voices are becoming heard, and Transgender models are finding more opportunities in a variety of fields. The task of inclusivity and visibility has been successful with the use of social media tools such as Instagram to show the market need and showcase future modeling talent within the Transgender and Fashion community.
In the Yahoo lifestyle article, “For the modeling industry, the future is Transgender”, journalist Landon Peoples says,” When we think of what makes a model a ‘super,’ it’s not only the ability to win fans, but also to turn the runway into a global stage on which they represent the best of what’s to come. Whereas getting on the catwalk was once the entire point, now, it marks the beginning of something more. We’re in the middle of some revolutionary shifts in our culture, and models have been vocal about keeping the industry honest and pushing it forward. From calling out racial inequality and sexual harassment to confronting body shamers, and turning their platforms into political stages, they’re not afraid to fight for justice — and to not take no for an answer” (Peoples 2018). This article also showcases the rise of the Transgender models on the catwalk. Peoples explains, “After several seasons that saw an increasing number of transgender models on the catwalk from 12 to 45, during spring 2018 — transgender visibility is increasing, though it’s all but clear. Teddy, Leyna, Castle, Gia, and Geena are some of the biggest names in the community, and it’s time the world knows them by their first names, too. Though their stories are different, they all possess an honest investment in where fashion is going, and how their presence in the industry contributes to the cultural zeitgeist at large” (Peoples 2018). Peoples also reminds us that to employ an openly transgender model was once taboo; in fact, it was unheard of. At a moment when fashion is more than just the clothing on our backs, there’s never been a more critical time to get rid of labels than now. This rise of inclusion will be seen as a social revolution as the first generation of openly Transgender fashion models pave the way for future Transgender and gender variant models.
These rising models continue to use platforms such as Instagram to keep their activism and Transgender visibility. Transgender fashion model Gia Garrison is showcased in the article “For the modeling industry, the future is Transgender,” “If fashion is art and the industry is a museum, Gia Garrison is the Mona Lisa. Still a teenager, Garrison is both a veteran and rookie of Brooklyn nightlife a persona that, via social media, has drawn the eyes of the industry on her way. In just a few years, Garrison has secured her stake among the fashion elite, attending and hosting parties that would otherwise require cocktail attire with Garrison showing up in next-to-nothing glam chokers, chains, and miniskirts” (Peoples, 2018). Another prime example in the article “For the modeling industry, the future is Transgender,” fashion model McAuther explains, “Being open about my gender in the industry, I don’t have anxieties over people finding out I am trans. It forces me to love myself as a trans person and to see the beauty in this experience. It helps me realize that this is completely normal, and every trans individual deserves to feel normal about themselves, he says. Sentiments like this are frequent on his Instagram, where McArthur often calls on the industry for radical improvements to the way it regards transgender models. We are not modeling being transgender. We are modeling the clothing, the art, the fashion, and so many other things that are not focused on our gender. Your gender can’t hold you back” (Peoples 2018).
Transgender fashion model Rocero opens up about her Transgender led projects in the Peoples article, “I recently executively produced a documentary with LogoTV called Made to Model, on the history of trans models. One of the models that we featured said she experienced misgendering and mistreatment about 80% of the time during shoots. It’s incredibly sad but common. I think it’s important to set intentions in the work environment. Before the shoot, educate the whole production team on language and pronouns, along with the goal of making the day on the job fun, inclusive, and supportive” (Peoples 2018).
Regarding support, it’s helpful to remember that most transgender models, didn’t adhere to a formula for revealing their gender identity. There is no blueprint for coming out as Transgender model. For Rocero, that wasn’t exactly a bad thing, in the article written by journalist Peoples, “I wish when I was starting out there were a lot of out, celebrated trans-identified models. But I also think of the many trans youth seeing me and others on social media; I can only hope that it gives them a sense of reflection that they, too, can claim their space” (Popeles 2018).
The method of social media has been a successful strategy and has resulted at the beginning of a new era with the birth of Transgender modeling agencies. As the Transgender population continues to be represented in the modeling world, this helps create opportunities and equality for future Transgender models. Ultimately the work of all these models, high and low profile, helps to shift attitudes and make Transgender modeling an established piece of the modeling world.
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