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What is a transgender model?

Since the modeling industry has become more inclusive and diverse, brands are now willing to work with unique models who can also help companies to communicate their values. Far from the conventional modeling requirements, the industry is more inclusive and every time there is a bigger space for transgender models. By transgender models, we understand those people who consider themselves transgender and work in modeling. A person is transgender when their assigned sex and gender identity don’t match.

Who was the first transgender model?

Despite transgender models having now more visibility in modeling, throughout the years, they have been rejected and discriminated. It is thought that April Ashley was the very first transgender model who became successful. Her unique look led her to be part of Vogue’s magazine pages. April kept her identity to herself, however, the newspaper Sunday People revealed in 1961 that she was transgender. As she explained to the BBC: “My agent called me and she said 'April your career is finished. You will never get another job in this town’.” Something similar happened to the model Tracey Norman. She enjoyed a successful modeling career for 10 years. She was also pointed out for being transgender and she since then, she struggled finding jobs as a model.

Most famous transgender models

Fortunately, society has become more inclusive and respectful with transgender people, and so the modeling industry. Popular brands such as Victoria Secret, Calvin Klein, Jean Paul Gaultier have included transgender models in their runway shows and campaigns and some of them have become very popular. Find below the most famous transgender models.

Transgender male models

These are some of the most popular transgender male models.
  • Nathan Westling is an American transgender model. He started modeling in 2014 and since then, he’s worked with the most popular fashion brands, such as Marc Jacobs, Jean Paul Gaultier, Fendi, Prada, Etro, Chanel, among others. He came out as a transgender man in March 2019.

  • Casil McArthur started his modeling career as a female. He’s worked with big brands such as Coach and Marc Jacobs. He told Vogue he loves being a trans person. “I want people to see the beauty in trans bodies, too” he said. Apart from being a model, he’s an actor and activist.

  • Chella Man is a deaf and trans model and YouTuber from Pennsylvania. He’s worked with Calvin Klein and has appeared on several magazines.

  • Laith Ashley is an American transgender model, actor, singer, song-writer and activist. Laith has been working as a model for different brands such as Barneys, Calvin Klein, Diesel. And he has appeared on magazines such as British GQ, French Vogue and Elle UK.

  • Benjamin Melzer is a male model from Germany. He became the first transgender cover star of Men Health’s Magazine.

Transgender female models

These are some of the most popular transgender female models at this time.
  • Valentina Sampaio is a Brazilian female model and actress. She became the first openly transgender model to work with Victoria Secret and Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue’s.

  • Theodora ‘Teddy’ Quinlivan is an American model who became the first openly transgender model to be named face of Chanel Beauty.

  • Hunter Schafer is an American model and actress. She’s become popular for playing Jules on the HBO series Euphoria. She’s modeled for brands such as Dior, Miu Miu, Maison Margiela and Helmut Lang.

  • Andreja Pejić is an Australian model. She became the first-ever trans woman to sign a cosmetics contract and appear on several magazine covers.

  • Hari Nef is an American model and actress who was the first openly transgender person to appear on the cover of a commercial British magazine.

  • Jari Jones is an American plus-size actress, artist, model and activist who became popular for being part of Calvin Klein’s 2020 Pride Campaign #ProudInMyCalvins. She’s also worked with Sauvage x Fenty.

How to be a transgender model?

You will probably wonder how to be a transgender model. Actually, as any other type of modeling, the most important thing you should start with is creating your material, such as your polaroids, your self-tape and your modeling portfolio. When creating your photos and videos have in mind what you want to communicate and select the pictures that help you communicate exactly what you intend to.

Once you get your material created, you can submit it to different agencies. Make sure the agencies you apply to represent the type of modeling you want to do. There are also modeling agencies that are focused on only representing transgender models.

And if you do all of the above and still wonder how to be a transgender model, the easiest and quickest way to get started is to create a profile on and start applying to online castings. Don’t forget to include your story in the bio. That will help clients know that you are transgender and get to know your story.

This is all you need to know on transgender models and how to be a transgender model.