The modeling world has come a long way when it comes to hiring transgender models. Using transgender models in runway shows and ad campaigns was unheard of until very recently. Hiring transgender models used to be so taboo because transgender people do not fit neatly into societal roles and because they were thought to set bad examples to potential customers. Luckily, things have changed for the better. Although there is most definitely still a lot of work that needs to be done, transgender models are becoming more accepted in the world of fashion. The models listed below are proof of the changing views of the fashion world when it comes to transgender models. These are some of the most sought after models in the world. All of these models are beautiful inside and out. Their stories have helped inspire millions to follow their dreams, and be who they want to be. So to celebrate these models, below is a list of ten of the most stunning transgender models in the world. These models are helping to redefine what it means to be beautiful and demonstrating how to stay true to oneself.
10 Isis King
You may remember Isis King from the eleventh and the seventeenth season of America’s Next Top Model. King made Top Model history when she became the first trans woman to compete on the show and as a result, one of the most recognizable transgender people on television. After ending her stint on ANTM, King went on to tell her story on The Tyra Banks Show and Larry King Live. King also continues to model. In 2012, she became American Apparel’s first openly transgender model and in 2014, she was featured on the cover of C☆NDY magazine with 13 other transgender women.
9 Lea T
Lea T is a gorgeous transgender fashion model. Lea was born in Brazil but raised in Italy. She was discovered by Givenchy designer, Riccardo Tisci. After she was discovered, she went on to become the face of Givenchy in 2010. The next year she walked in her first runway show for Alexandre Herchcovitch. Lea’s modeling career continued to skyrocket. She was featured in editorials for big time magazines such as Vogue Paris, Interview Magazine and Love Magazine (for which she was on the cover for two editions). And in 2014, Lea became the face of Redken, an American hair-care brand. This made her the first openly transgender model to be the face of a global cosmetics brand.
8 Ines Rau
Ines Rau is a world-famous model who isn’t afraid to tell her story. In an interview with Oyster Magazine Rau said, “My biggest dream in the world when I was a little girl was to be first of all a princess and then a rock star. I think, being a fashion model, it’s a perfect combination of both!” The model went on to say that she has always loved her body, even before her transformation. When discussing her gender change Rau said, “It’s a very powerful feeling to choose which gender you’re going to be and to go for it.”
7 Aydian Dowling
Aydian Dowling first came onto the fashion scene when he did a recreation of Adam Levine’s nearly nude shot of 2011. Dowling chose to recreate the shot because his and Levine’s bodies were similar and to raise awareness for testicular cancer. The picture came with the tag-line, “Some areas of my body used to remind me everything I’m not, now they represent everything I am.” Dowling is also trying to point out that that there is no staple for what a trans man is supposed to look like. Dowling said, “We’ve had comments saying ‘he doesn’t look trans’ which brings up a great point on what does trans even look like?”
6 Arisce Wanzer
Arisce Wanzer is a fashion model who grew up in Northern Virginia. In an interview with the Hairpin, Wanzer discussed the difficulties of growing up. Wanzer said, “I think people are just really used to black-and-white, cut-and-past. But, you know, we’re all different. Someone’s going to be an accountant if they’re good at math, and the thing that I’ve always been best at is being a girl.” Today, Wanzer is a hard working model. She has done campaigns for Selima Optique, a spread in Purple magazine, and a commercial for Chrysalis Lingerie. She has also walked in a number of runway shows for big name designers.
5 Andreja Pejic
Andreja Pejic is one of the most well known transgender models in the world. Her career started when she was discovered at the age of 18 in a McDonalds. Initially, Pejic modeled for both male and female clothing. In 2011, she walked in Jean-Paul Gaultier’s show for both the men and women, and she walked in the men’s show for Marc Jacobs. That same year, Pejic was named one of the Top 50 Male Models, as well as one of the 100 Sexiest Women in the world. In 2014, Pejic underwent sex reassignment surgery and in 2015 she became the first transgender model to be profiled by Vogue.
4 Geena Rocero
Geena Rocero is a transgender model who was discovered at the age of 21. The supermodel was born in the Philippines but immigrated to the United States at the age of 15. After she was discovered, Rocero signed with NEXT Model Management and spent the next 12 years modeling for swimsuit and beauty editorials. In addition to being a working model, Rocero is an advocate for the rights of transgender people. She is the founder of Gender Proud, which is “an advocacy & awareness campaign that aims to advance the rights of all transgender individuals."
3 Caroline "Tula" Cossey
Caroline Cossey is one of the most well-known trans women in the world. Cossey’s credits include appearing in a James Bond film and being the first trans woman to pose for Playboy. In 1978, Cossey was outed as a trans woman by the tabloid News of the World. Cossey claims that she was so upset by what the tabloid wrote about her that she contemplated suicide. However, Cossey persevered and continued her modeling career and even wrote an autobiography entitled, I Am a Woman. In addition to being a model, Cossey has fought for her right to legally marry and her right to be recognized as a woman in the eyes of the law.
2 Carmen Carrera
Carmen Carrera is a reality TV star, model, burlesque performer and actress who is probably best known for appearing on the reality TV series, RuPaul’s Drag Race and its spin-off series, RuPaul’s Drag U. Although Carrera was male at the time she competed in RuPaul’s Drag Race, Carrera reported that she is a transgender woman (in 2012). In addition to being a model, Carrera has appeared in the show Cake Boss, Primetime: What Would You Do?, Jane the Virgin, and she has been featured on the Cover of Candy Magazine along with other transgender models on this list.
1 Jenna Talackova
Jenna Talackova is a model and television personality who first became famous when she won the battle to compete in the Miss Universe pageant after being disqualified because she is a trans woman. Before competing in Miss Universe, Talackova competed in the 2012 Miss International Queen pageant for transgender and transsexual woman. At the Miss Universe pageant, Talackova made it all the way into the top 12. In addition, she was awarded the title of Miss Congeniality. For her efforts, Talackova was named co-grand marshal of the Vancouver Pride Parade in 2012. A reality show about Talackova’s life entitled Brave New Girls premiered on E! Canada, in January 2014.