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Fashion

Supermodel Status: The Transgender Models Changing The Fashion Game

Changing fashion's landscape one strut at a time, these are the glamazons and muses loved dearly by the fashion world – the ones who challenge the binary and continue to break the mould.

It’s not easy being a womxn – a term that includes non-cisgender women – and let alone, a minority. Not being seen as an equal and constantly being told that you’re not living up to the typical standard or you’re not deserving of opportunities. And sadly for those on the transgender spectrum, society often dictates how it’s wrong to be themselves which can leave them, for the most part, suppressed and challenged with unimaginable mental, physical, or emotional struggles regularly.

With that said, it’s fair to say that fashion has continued to flourish and has become a wonderful platform that celebrates individuality and gives space for all womxn to rise to the top. Above, we put the spotlight on transgender models (and dare we say, icons), who are marking their legacies and changing the fashion narrative today – one strut at a time.

Catwalk Photos Showbit.com

Hunter Schafer
You can say Hunter’s a triple-threat. She first rose to headlines as a teenage trans-activist back in 2016, when she added her name as a plaintiff in the American Civil Liberties Union’s lawsuit against the State of North Carolina over House Bill Two, which required individuals to conform and use bathrooms based on the gender they were assigned to at birth.   Hunter then mastered the catwalks having walked for designers like Burberry, Coach, and Rick Owens. As of 2019, launching to overnight stardom in her breakout role as Jules in HBO’s genre-bending hit tv series Euphoria. If you’re wondering about what the Gen Z multi-hyphenate’s been up to recently, well, she’s recently fronted the Calvin Klein #MyCalvins campaign along with personalities like Kendall Jenner and SZA, and is continuing the good work in bringing visibility to her community through her different projects. Theodora 'Teddy' Quinlivan
Getting her big start when Louis Vuitton’s creative director Nicolas Ghesquiere discovered Teddy Quinlivan in 2015, she’s since made a name for herself amongst the top fashion designers and has even become a recognisable street-style It girl in the last decade – sporting brands like Paco Rabbane and Oresund Iris on the reg. Last year, she also made history as the first transgender model to become the face of a Chanel Beauty campaign. Valentina Sampaio
Brazilian fashion darling, Valentina Sampaio, may just be starting out but it’s clear that she has the drive to go far within the industry. Seen on the runways of Jean Paul Gaultier and on the glossy covers of magazines internationally, Sampaio was also announced as Victoria’s Secret first transgender model hire in 2019 and may have perhaps walked in the famous, now-defunct Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. Her most noteworthy career opportunity to date? Making it into the mainstream as a brand ambassador for L’Oreal Paris. Leyna Bloom
It’s a huge step coming out to the world for who you are and simultaneously pursuing the highly-coveted challenging career in the modeling scene, yet somehow Leyna Bloom’s managed to do it with ease. She broke boundaries as the first transgender model to be cast on the cover of Vogue India and the first transgender model of Afro-Filipino heritage and colour to grace the Tommy Hilfiger x Zendaya Fall/Winter 2019 show. She’s recently even transitioned into acting last year, starring in indie films like Port Authority (2019) and Fluidity (2019). It’s safe to say that this is only the beginning of what’s in store for Leyna. Lea T
A long-time muse for then-creative director at Givenchy and now, Burberry chief creative officer, Riccardo Tisci – it’s no wonder that Lea T has been at the helm of several brand campaigns and shows for the brands and that had assisted her in opening doors to endless possibilities. Landing herself an acting role in Netflix’s Sense8, an interview on Oprah and even, dream opportunities with a multitude of designers and cover spreads in the likes of Love Magazine and Glamour Italia. Andreja Pejic
Notably the first completely androgynous model who’d dress both men and women’s clothing for the likes of Jean-Paul Gaultier and Marc Jacobs and who then, became one of the first transgender models to make it – it’s crystal-clear to admit that Andreja Pejic’s cemented her position in the industry and is becoming a household name in her own right. Whether the Bosnian-Australian is championing for justice and political rights or posing pretty for the flashing cameras, Pejic has definitely worked her way up over the last nine years and is being valued for who she is and what she brings to the table. Hari Nef
Philadelphian-born actress-model-writer, Hari Nef is a force to be reckoned with. First rising to fame with her 2015 runway debut for the Spring/Summer shows of Hood By Air and Eckhaus Latta – Nef has since been tapped to work with a variety of designers from the likes of Gucci to Mansur Gavriel and was even the first trans model to be signed with the international acclaimed modeling agency, IMG Models. And if you’re wondering why this face or name is familiar, you may have seen her marvelous acting chops in Netflix’s You (2018) or action-comedy film Assasination Nation (2018), and if not, her writing for publications like Dazed and Vice.