Supermodel Andreja Pejic Comes Out as a Trans Woman!

Model Andreja Pejic has been in the public spotlight for a few years, making big waves for her androgynous look and ability to model both menswear and womenswear flawlessly. She’s now in the news again after coming out publicly as a trans woman and announcing that she will start to exclusively model women’s fashion from now on. She says that she is supported by friends and her family in Australia.

Photo credit: Emir Eralp

Photo credit: Emir Eralp

The news was shared exclusively with Entertainment Tonight, People.com (who still managed to send out an insensitive tweet despite working directly with Pejic) and Style.com. GLAAD also worked with Pejic in the week leading up to the announcement.

Pejic is young, but already has a number of impressive accomplishments on her resumé. She’s been working as a model since 2007 and has been on the cover of magazines like Elle and French Vogue, was named to the Out 100 list, won a NewNowNext award and co-starred in a David Bowie music video. She’s also slated to appear in Sophia Coppola’s upcoming live-action adaptation of The Little Mermaid (warning: misgendering at link). Here’s hoping that she continues to have an even bigger and bigger career as time goes on.

Pejic on the cover of Out Magazine in 2011.

Pejic on the cover of Out Magazine in 2011.

GLAAD reported that Pejic gave them a message to share with her fellow trans people, saying, “To all trans youth out there, I would like to say respect yourself and be proud of who you are. All human beings deserve equal treatment no matter their gender identity or sexuality. To be perceived as what you say you are is a basic human right.” She also took to her Facebook page to say, “As a transgender woman I hope to show that after transition (a life-saving process) one can be happy and successful in their new chapter without having to alienate their past.” On that page, Pejic thanks everyone who has supported her throughout her life and career.

I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you for the love and support throughout the years. You’ve all helped me through this journey and I have learned a lot and really come into my own and the response to today’s announcement truly overwhelmed me and reminds me of why I chose to do this publicly.

I think we all evolve as we get older and that’s normal but I like to think that my recent transition hasn’t made me into a different individual. Same person, no difference at all just a different sex :) I hope you can all understand that.

Pejic joins other trans models like Isis King, Ines Rau, Arisce Wanzer, Geena Rocero, Carmen Carrera and Lea T who have all been having some success in the past few years. Even though some people like Project Runway’s Tim Gunn aren’t exactly onboard with the “new” influx of trans models, this isn’t the first time trans women have walked the runway or been in front of the camera. There’s actually a long history that includes people like Roberta CloseCaroline CosseyApril Ashley and Amanda Lear who have had success modeling while being trans. Although the truth definitely stands that it’s much easier to be openly trans and a model now than it was during the time of their careers.

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Other figures in the trans world have been pouring out their support for Pejic online. People like Laverne Cox, Janet Mock and Jen Richards have sent her love via twitter. Congratulations Andreja, and welcome to the trans sisterhood.

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Mey is a lesbian Latina trans woman living in Idaho. Her areas of expertise include comic books, trans issues and pop culture. She has an English Degree, a cat named Sawyer, a tumblr that she uses a lot and a twitter that she only uses occasionally.

Mey has written 171 articles for us.

28 Comments

  1. Thumb up 5

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    Why are there no Transmen models? Or Transmen in staring roles? I am glad for these sisters, but I want some more representation too. If I could I would be a model! But nonetheless, good for them and getting visibility for the Trans community as a whole. It has helped to not feel so alone. I haven’t reached out to other trans people so seeing these positive reports makes me happy. I was on a youtube video the other day about a transwoman who had botched plastic surgery (‘cement face’) and the comments put me back into that depressive state wondering once again, ‘why couldn’t I be born normal or right?’ Thank you for that positive piece!

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      The reason there are transgendered women models and no transgendered men has to do with the types of bodies that designers want for their models. Most designers prefer models that are tall and skinny with narrow hips and broad shoulders. The people hiring transgendered women and feminine-of-center men as models don’t care about representation, it’s only about getting a specific look.

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        Really, this is dancing around the main issues: passing privilege and also sizeism. Models, in general, are considered the most desirable when they are very thin. Women models, historically, are smaller around the waist, hips, thighs than the “average” ciswoman. Sizeism plays a significant role in who can be cast as a model, and for what gender. In general, modeling can be total fuckery. Similarly, trans men who are not understood to be clearly “passing” are going to be a very niche market. Final note, it is extraordinary that transwomen are becoming more comfortable living as their authentic selves within their professional fields- let’s celebrate that! YEAH! I do hope that there will be an opening in the modeling field for people who do not clearly align with the thin, gendered expectations that currently dominate the field.

        Also, people are not “transgendered” they are transgender, the same way someone is not “gayed” they are gay.

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      If I were to wager a guess I’d say that height is the big difference- female models usually have to be at least 5’7″-ish, male models more like 5’10” or 5’11”. So transwomen have a natural advantage in the fashion industry as they’re more likely to be tall, but transmen are at a natural disadvantage. Bone structure probably plays a part too- narrow hips are generally valued for both male and female high fashion models (which is odd, to me, being a big fan of women’s hips, but hey).

      • Thumb up 9

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        Whoa… wow.

        1) Trans women are not “men who are girly” or “just like men in general”. Those are extremely transphobic comparisons to make.

        2)There are far, FAR higher rates of violence and discrimination against trans women than trans men. It is in no way true that trans women are more accepted by society than trans men. They may be more visible in media because far more scrutiny is placed upon them, but that scrutiny has just as much (if not more) negative effects than positive.

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        If I’m reading correctly, you essentially lumped trans women alongside “like men in general” which means that you are implying that trans women are still men. This is grossly inaccurate and constitutes transmisogyny.

        Secondly, the rates of violence against trans women and feminine MAAB individuals are much higher than trans men and masculine FAAB (which does not erase the violence of the latter groups). It is evident that masculine women are not seen as aberrant as feminine men when “boy activities” and tomboys are encouraged in children, but boys wearing dresses or playing with dolls can invoke barbaric violence. This imbalanced view of gender binary manifests in how trans women are treated versus how trans men are treated. And this is without even going into a discussion on male privilege to start with.

        I strongly disagree with your statement. Regardless of whether your personal experiences prove the opposite, it is definitely not the norm.

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        I’m tempted to assume that this comment is just a troll, but on the off chance that you’re serious, this needs to be said: It is literally the opposite of what you just said.

        Like, the world works literally in the opposite way to how you think it does.

        a. Trans women are more VISIBLE, not more ACCEPTED. It’s really that simple. Probably has something to do with the higher levels of scrutiny we put on women for how they look, talk, sound, etc. Or, y’know, misogyny.

        b. Things are not slated in favor of those who were born with penises. Things are slated in favor of those who express masculinity. Which is why feminine gay men are looked down upon while masculine gay men are worshiped. Which is why trans women are constantly mocked, ridiculed, slandered, assaulted, raped and murdered. Expressing femininity as an AMAB person, especially in childhood, is almost always risky and often dangerous. I don’t know how else to explain this.

        c. Don’t lump trans women together with cis men. Just don’t.

        I understand that you are entitled to your own experiences, but advancing these misconceptions is really harmful. They falsely paint a tiny, already marginalized group of women with privileges that we do not have, further invalidating our attempts to be heard and recognized for who we are.

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      I think there are fewer famous trans men models than trans women models because there are fewer famous male models than female models. Women’s wear is the center of the fashion industry, and as a result the people who model women’s clothing are more likely to be famous for it. There are plenty of exceptions to be sure, but I think it’s fairly apparent that there are more famous female supermodels than male supermodels. Which really isn’t surprising given the supreme importance our culture places on how women look.

      But as for this idea that trans women enjoy some sort of “advantage” when it comes the the fashion world, like, can we stop? Because it’s really not true. Trans women come in all shapes and sizes, and the number of trans women who look like supermodels is proportional to the number of cis women who look like supermodels: very few.

      The fashion industry privileges a very narrow range of body shapes, and trans women are no more likely to fit inside that range than cis women are. Insisting that trans women are more likely to fit within this range is essentially pushing the belief that we all “look the same.” That belief is built on tired old clichés about trans women (look at her big hands!) that really need to be put to bed.

      But moreover, arguing that trans women possess some sort of privilege when it comes to the world of fashion ignores the reality that trans women are disadvantaged in this field just like they are pretty much everywhere else. Are there a few trans women models who succeed in spite of a system not built for them? Yes. But even when they do succeed, trans women models are often pigeonholed, treated as exotic or strange curiosities by the fashion industry at large that usually ignores them. So pushing the idea that this industry somehow privileges trans women is misleading at best.

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      Yeah, as soon as I saw that Andreja had come out I had a feeling there was going to be this influx of people jumping into complain that the fashion industry makes clothes designed to fit boys, not “real” women – and I was right.

      The unrealistic standards promulgated by designers are absolutely worthy of critique, but trans women are not the problem. Trans women have at least as much, if not more, trouble than cis women finding clothes designed to fit their bodies. The vast majority of women, regardless of sex assigned at birth, do not resemble supermodels. Scapgoating models who happen to be trans is a really misguided way to encourage designers to make clothing designed with the diversity of female bodies in mind.

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        Agree… the fashion industry uses ‘eff’d standards to market their product. These standards enforce certain highly distorted and messed up normativities of race, class, body, weight, beauty, body function, and gender. The trans women who’ve been used and exploited in that business have little to no power over their images nor how they’re portrayed. If anything, their trans backgrounds have often been exploited for publicity, queer hipness and supposed “outrageousness.” Critique the puppetmasters, not the puppets.

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    I just realized that Andreja is in one of my favorite Marc campaigns (by favorite I mean cut out of magazines and hanging on my wall favorite). It’s awesome that she is getting such wonderful support and continuing to be an amazing person and model.

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    Yes, there is a long line of trans women who’ve been successful models. I need to give my article on the subject a plug (and just mention that Roberta Close and Caroline Cossey were never really fashion models… they did what would be called glamour modeling): http://skipthemakeup.blogspot.com/2010/05/which-one-is-it-spot-trans-model.html

    And one who rarely gets mentioned but is probably the biggest inspiration to Andreja is Teri Toye who, as an out trans woman in the mid-1980s, became the most famous model for Stephen Sprouse, and walked for Gaultier, Mugler and a host of others. She’s been much copied in “the industry” including a lot of styling for Andreja.

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    Good news to read! I read more of Andreja’s interview yesterday, and it was poignant to read that she’s been out since she was 13 but went back into the closet for her career. It’s wonderful that she’s in a good place to live openly on such a public platform.

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    Oh…well, yes…good for her. We all deserve to have our identities recognized and respected without having to justify ourselves…

    However…purely selfishly, I guess, as someone who doesn’t identify with the gender binary – and actually know anybody in real life who also feels this way – I’m actually more than a little bit sad to lose such a high-profile model of someone who lived outside of being man or woman.

    All the best to Andreja, but this news does make me feel lonely.

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