As an industry, modeling has taken huge leaps and bounds to get to where it is today—at a point where transgender models are actually featured alongside their heteronormative counterparts. Modeling as we know it today involves breaking down barriers and collaborating with a diverse set of voices. With the creative allure of high fashion and the fascination of the human form, models of all shapes, sizes, races, and gender identities are given a chance to share their story and represent their group. The ability to be “visible” is a token that these groups highly value. Through the use of social media, many of these models have stepped into the spotlight and have celebrated the things that make them unique.
Throughout time, transgender individuals specifically have struggled to understand their own gender identity and in turn have felt insecure about their own body image. Yet, transgender models and celebrities have helped normalize this transition and have paved the way for acceptance, celebration, and understanding of the transgender narrative. With this visibility, many transgender individuals have started to feel more secure and embraced by their transition.
Through social media platforms, transgender models and celebrities are able to connect to the greater LGBTQ community. This growing network has inspired young members of the LGBTQ community to realize that they are beautiful and should be proud of who they are. As a whole, transgender modeling has become a constant form of encouragement and support to those who are still struggling to be “visible.”
Top Transgender Models
Below is a list of some of the top transgender models in the industry today
While Teddy did not start her modeling career as a transgender model, her current presentation as a woman has helped pave the way for young transgender models to come. She is a huge source of inspiration in the modeling community and has actively worked to create an environment where models of different backgrounds and gender identities are included in the modeling world. Teddy believes that her success is not necessarily attributed to her transgender identity, but rather her transgender identity makes her unique and special.
As a person, Gia marches to the beat of her own drum. She is inspired by her own individuality and is unapologetically herself. As a model, Gina is celebrated for her unique beauty. Gina transitioned into a woman later into her career and still plays with both masculine and feminine energies. Her ability to be a chameleon as a model has helped inspire other transgender models who struggle to define their own gender identity and gendered presentation.
At first, Carmen transitioned into the fashion world through a spread in W magazine. She also has TV appearances on TLC and ABC. Throughout her career, she became a transgender activist and today she continues to be an advocate for the transgender community for transgender models.
Leyna’s story is one of inspiration and growth. After coming to New York City, Leyna did not have a penny to her name and was constantly trying to figure out how to survive in this Urban Jungle. Fast froward to her becoming the first transgender model to make it on the cover of Vogue India. As a black women, Leyna also is inspired to stand up for people of color as she works to make the modeling industry more diverse and inclusive.
Lea is a Brazilian born, Italian raised model who was discovered by Givenchy’s Riccardo Tisci. She has become one of the most visible trans faces in the modeling industry. Her ability to succeed as a transgender model has helped encourage young transgender individuals and transgender models to take pride in their body and image as well. She was recently named one of Forbes‘ “12 Women Who Have Changed Italian Fashion.”
View this post on Instagram
Provavelmente, se nao tivesse um pai famoso, uma familia que me amasse, eu nao estaria nessa capa. Poderia estar na rua com poucos sonhos. Sou uma mulher trans negra. Nas minhas veias tem o sangue da grande Africa, e do meu amado povo indígena ,Eu sou o Brasil! Amo essa terra e nunca vou me cansar de defendê-la. Hoje é um dia especial, temos 3 capas com mulheres trans em um país com o maior indice de violência na comunidade LGBT. Estou feliz por estar em uma delas. Quero dedicar a minha capa à cada pessoa que faz a diferença cotidianamente pra vitórias como essa. Agradeço de coração à minha querida guerreira @susanabarbosa que, em 2011, abriu caminhos colocando uma mulher trans na capa de uma revista feminina. Agradeço também ao meu irmão @zemacedopr, à minha família e a todos os amigos e pessoas que aprenderam a me entender. ELLE Brasil @ellebrasil Direção de Arte Luciano Schmitz @luciano_schmitz Fotos Mariana Maltoni @maltoni Edição de Moda Renata Correa @renatacorrea Beleza Rodrigo Costa @rodrigocosta Texto Gabriel Monteiro @gabrielhmonteiro e Pedro Camargo @pedrojcamargo Produção Executiva Gregório Souza @sogregs Agenciamento @o2opr ✌🏾🌎✨💚🌈
Throughout her life as a model and an activist, Gina believes that gender is a destiny. She was once a boy who used fashion to express her inner emotions, to a woman representing transgender individuals across the Philippines. While Gina did not reveal her transgender identity until she was in the middle of her modeling career, she now encourages others to love and embrace their individuality and uniqueness.
Casil had to overcome a lot of gender dysmorphia at the beginning of his career as he describes that “I had no energy, no drive. I felt like I was a black hole. I had pretty bad gender dysphoria up until I was able to get my top surgery done.” Opening up about his transgender identity has allowed him to love himself and see the beauty in his experience. Casil has helped set the stage for other transgender models as he encourages other transgender individuals to love and embrace their identity.
View this post on Instagram
Queer Corps casted by @visualtales for @outmagazine September issue! Thank you for letting me apart of this new generation of lgtbq+ role models. ♡ Creative/Styling @grantwoolhead Photographer @dianelreare Hair by @torrentfernando Makeup by @lindagradinmakeup #fw2017 #outmagazine #transpride #ftm #modelsofsoul #queercorps #transgender #transmale #ftm #transpride #trans #lgtb #lgtbqia #lgtbq #casilmcarthur #fashion #mensfashion #fashionmodel #editorial #malemodel #mensstyle #casil #model #transmodel #highfashion
Valentijn de Hingh
This Amsterdam native has rocked the modeling world and has made some amazing appearances in Martin Margiela and Commes des Garcons fashion shows. Her moment in the spotlight began when a Dutch documentary detailed her transition to a woman, including her sex reassignment surgery when she was 17.
Hailing from Australia, Andreja was discovered while working at McDonalds. Andreja has walked for influential designers such as Marc Jacobs and Jean-Paul Gaultier and became one of the first openly transgender models to be profiled by Vogue. Her work as a transgender model has helped bring the transgender narrative into high fashion.
View this post on Instagram
“One thing I’m certain of is that I’m human. If you cut me, I’ll bleed. If you’re mean to me, you’ll make me sad; if you hug me, I might cry or smile; if you buy me white roses, I’ll really like you; if you’re good in bed, I’ll have an orgasm. I laugh, I breathe and I search for love, happiness and meaning, just like you do. I question life, society and sadness, as I have no doubt you all do, too. Instead of thinking about the many different ways of politicising my transition, my body and the other secondary aspects of my identity and life, I like to lie in bed looking into the cold night, pondering bigger ideas. I’m doing it right now; it’s a full moon tonight…” If you’re bored you can read the rest of the essay I wrote for @vogueaustralia by clicking the link in my bio.☺️
Aydian’s first received attention as the first transgender male to take the lead in a competition for Men’s Health next cover star. His journey as a transgender male model has inspired transgender males to discover and define their own concept of masculinity. As a whole, Aydian has helped to encourage young transgender models and individuals to be themselves and feel comfortable and happy in their skin.
View this post on Instagram
So many people may say #goals on my pictures- But my battle inside is just as real as yours may be. To work to find a balance between love and hate. • I had surgery. 🔪 Traveled for events. ✈️ Then got super sick. 🤒 To say my plans to ‘kill it in the gym post op’ got demolished- would be an understatement. • It’s been tough for me to not be able to hit the gym on a regular basis. 💪🏼 To see other people doing their thing and wishing I could do mine. • I knew getting my Hysterectomy would challenge, even further, my relationship to the mirror- To my body. 👤 • To constantly strive for perfection from myself in every way. Some could say it made me. Some could say it’ll kill me. • I’m here trying to find the balance before either one lands me in a world where my body defines me. 🙅🏼♂️ • • • 📸 @readingsbyjenilee #balance #igotmyownissues #bodyimage #bodypositive #strivingforhappiness #whatsabetterbodymeananyway #postivevibes #motivation #inspire #fitness #fitnessmotivation #ftmfitness #aydiandowling #ftm #trans #transgender #transmasculine #topsurgery #postop
Isis was discovered by Tyra Banks and was the first transgender model on the reality show America’s Next Top Model. Since her appearance on this TV show, Isis has been featured in Seventeen, Out and Candy magazine.
Hari is an extraordinary talent. She has made appearances in film shows such as Transparent, Crush, and Family Tree and has written articles for Vice, Dazed & Confused, and Adult. Hari has also walked for brands like Hood By Air, VFiles, Degen and Adam Selman.
Valentina was featured on the cover Vogue’s Brazil issue in 2016. As a young model, Valentina is still growing in her career. However, her success in the industry this far has helped inspire other young transgender models to follow their dreams.
Having appeared in New York Fashion week, Ren is taking the modeling world by storm. She is transfender model based out of West Hollywood and is currently signed with Slay Model Management. Ren’s work has also merged into TV as she has appeared on Oxygen’s Strut.
Jude is one of the most influential trans models in the industry and has done work with Peggi Lepage Model Management as well as the Plutino Group. Check out this awesome video of Jude as well: