My Visceral Gender Presentation Feelings-Fest About Casey Legler, A Female Male Model

via newswhip

Have you ever wanted to fuck someone and look like them at the same time? That’s how I feel about Casey Legler, a person who identifies as female but who works as a model in the men’s fashion world.

But it goes deeper than that. Listening to Legler speak in this video on the Time website, I had a deep reaction stemming from my own gender presentation. I had a gender presentation feelings bomb.

Legler just fell into this role of modeling. An art maker working in New York, she did not anticipate doing this job at all. Having nothing to do on a particular Friday afternoon, she followed her photographer friend down a rabbit hole and into a world where she was not the art maker, but the subject instead. Ford models saw the results of this shoot for Muse magazine and signed her almost immediately to work on the male roster. Only the male roster.

“I understand signifiers. We’re social creatures and we have a physical language of communicating with each other,” she says. “But it would be a really beautiful thing if we could all just wear what we wanted, without it meaning something.”

And, you guys, she’s a former Olympic swimmer and doesn’t give a fuck about what society tells her she can and can’t experience:

When she qualified for the Olympic Games in Atlanta at age 18, Legler got together with some of her male teammates and shaved her head, eager to experience the feeling they described of swimming with a bald head.

“That was the beginning,” Legler says. “It was always one of those things: ‘These people get to do it, I really want to do it — why can’t I?’”

We’ve all seen Andrej Pejic’s career explode and I’ve always been in his corner. That’s nice, I thought. I love fucking with gender. Go Pejic! And go fashion world for not just allowing but encouraging this transgression of traditional gender ideals. I underestimated the importance of having a Pejic counterpart. The importance of it to me. The minute I started watching this video, I had an emotional experience I never had watching Pejic’s interviews or work. Casey Legler looks like me.

I mean, she’s taller than I am, clocking in at 6’2″. So I definitely don’t mean literally. But she’s a masculine of center woman. And she is comfortable in her body, comfortable enough to walk a runway and be in front of a camera constantly. I felt a lot feelings when I heard her voice, because it’s not deep. Mine isn’t either. I am so constantly self-concious of the way that I sound (like Minnie Mouse and a valley girl had a baby) and the vocal mannerisms I employ when I am talking (entirely my mother’s.) I feel like I should sound–I don’t know– butcher. Somehow. Legler is a fucking male model and her voice, while not quite the Minnie Mouse timbre of mine, is higher on the register. And she rocks it.

Having been weakened to kitten state, by the time I saw the image of her in a dress flash by in that video, I cried a little. You guys– I have paper cut-out butterflies on my walls and a crocheted afghan in my room. I put flowers on everything. No one owns more pink than I do. And yet nothing makes me happier than shopping in the men’s section. DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH CRAP I GET? And here’s this male model, talking about how she’s been instructed by the finest queens in rocking a pair of heels and how she looks fierce in a dress. Talking about how it would be so nice if we lived in a world where everyone could look how they wanted, wear what they wanted, and it wouldn’t really mean anything?


I want that world.

I want to live in a space where I can put something on my body and people aren’t going to give me crap about it. I want a world where, yes, I am deliberate about the way that I look but that can change from day to day. Where gender presentation can be fluid. Where women can be male models. Where Casey Legler’s haircut just grows naturally on my head. Okay, that last one is a physical impossibility. But I think it is so amazing that Legler is helping to create that world just by strutting her stuff. By showing us that it’s okay to be comfortable in your appearance. By showing us we can play in any sandbox we want to.

Watch the video. And rock it out in your own skin, your own clothes, your own body today, because it is a brave new world of fashion. Also, you guys, she’s really sexy. I got through the whole article without saying that, but I can’t hold it in any more. Let’s keep our eye on this one (it shouldn’t be hard.)

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A.E. Osworth

A.E. Osworth is part-time Faculty at The New School, where they teach undergraduates the art of digital storytelling. Their novel, We Are Watching Eliza Bright, about a game developer dealing with harassment (and narrated collectively by a fictional subreddit), is forthcoming from Grand Central Publishing (April 2021) and is available for pre-order now. They have an eight-year freelancing career and you can find their work on Autostraddle (where they used to be the Geekery Editor), Guernica, Quartz, Electric Lit, Paper Darts, Mashable, and drDoctor, among others.

A.E. has written 542 articles for us.


  1. Yes! I just read about her and was like ‘I wonder if AS will cover this’, came here, and voila. She seems so cool.

  2. Hmm I wonder why she suddenly came about?
    I know that Erika Linder identifies as a female who works as a male model in the fashion industry too.

  3. Jesus Christ. HER TEETH. HER NECK TATTOO. HER EYES. Happy Thanksgiving to me. These attributes have little to do with her gender presentation. But her gender presentation is HOT. She just seems so comfortable with her body. Sometimes I like the very posed, performative nature of gender, but I also just like people looking like their bodies are doing just what their spirits want them to do.

    I’m sorry ppl give you shit about your love of butterflies and pink, Ali. I actually really like Casey’s voice. Her voice/accent/mannerisms sound like a toned-down version of a queer/arts/NYC/transplant voice…doesn’t necessarily sound like a gender.

    • “but I also just like people looking like their bodies are doing just what their spirits want them to do.”

      I love this. It’s so true.

      Also, Casey seems so very smiley and talented! I totally identify with both Ali and Casey’s views about gender presentation. If I were a millionaire, I would buy ALL the suits and ties. I also like to wear dresses and heels occasionally too. I like make up and wearing my hair long. I would never pass as male, as I am a shortarse, with tiny hands and feet and substantial boobage. But if I want to wear suits and ties, I will wear them! If I were able to grow a moustashe/beard, I would be all over that shit. It would be nice to have the option!

      Let people dress the way they feel is right for them. If it changes from day to day, week to week, or sticks for years at a time, why should anyone care?

      I am also a fan of Erika, but agree that there is plenty of room for them both. Why would anyone want to limit the amount of hot models? WHY???!?

  4. Love this. Breaking down gender barriers and it doesn’t hurt that she is incredibly easy on the eyes.

  5. “Have you ever wanted to fuck someone and look like them at the same time?”

    Yes, that’s called the “Do Be Do Be Do”! “Do I want to *be* them, or do I want to *do” them?”

    In this case, it sounds like it’s both for you. :)

  6. I don’t know if I want to make out with her or steal her clothes or both.


  7. Wow, you guys work fast. I was literally, literally JUST drooling over her on Tumblr and here she is…

  8. Oh. My. Word.

    Both the woman and the words. Ali, thank you for this intro. So freaking awesome!

    “Where Casey Legler’s haircut just grows naturally on my head.” = my dream too.

  9. ARGH 1:20 when she’s looking at her artwork completely destroyed me. I am writing this as a molten collection of atoms.

  10. HOLD ON HERE!!!

    How can she say that she’s the “only one workig as a male model” when CLEARLY Erika Linder has done this shit for awhile now and is SO MUCH more hotter and better at it!?

    I mean, Erika Linder doesn’t even look like a boy when she’s doing her female stuff and she TOTALLY looks like a boy when she’s doing her male modeling.. THAT’S unique!!!

    Team Erika

    • I think she said she’s the only one working *solely* as a male model. What you’ve said leads me to believe Erika Linder does both.

  11. She just looks like an old lesbian.

    She doesn’t convince me as a guy at all.

    I, personally, thinks that Erika Linder does a way better job than her

  12. Wow! What a down to earth person who just seems to be totally confident in herself and her artistic work. Her personality is amazing! She also seems to live in one of those apartments in NY that I’ve always dreamed about. I’m not jealous at all…

  13. Ah this is awesome but so weird because I know her! I’ve known Casey for close to a year and she’s such a humble and genuine person. She’s just beautiful inside and out.

    And I love this article! All of this is what I am trying to focus on with my artwork so it’s great to hear people speak publicly about the just being true to themselves their gender presentation and not force themselves into narrow categories, because as I’m sure all of us on here have experienced at one time or another, it’s easy to feel pressured to conform to a certain “look” in order to feel validated by others.

    • Wow. Please ignore the awful grammar. Exhaustion + iPhone typing + riding in the back of a car = somewhat incomprehensible sentences.

  14. Wanting to be someone AND also have sexytimes with them is what Papi dubbed at camp, “Dopplebanger.”

  15. Have you ever wanted to fuck someone and look like them at the same time?

    All. The. Time. I mean, I’m like the softest of butches possible, and I feel hesitant even to give myself that appellation, but I’m so attracted to masculine women, and I always wish I could pull that kind of swagger off. I’m really curvy though, so it’s not really a look that always works for me.

    Damn though, Casey Legler is hot.

  16. I guess html isn’t supported in comments? :(

    The first line of my comment above was supposed to be italic. Anyways.

  17. Just…ohmygod…*swoons* Haha, do be do be do alllll the way. I’m just breaking into the butch/transmasculine appearance and I soooo wish I could pull it off even a fraction as well as this. Also…her eyes…

  18. Yes yes yes yes yes. This article makes me so happy. I’m so excited to be living in a world where gender presentation becomes less and less of a big deal and more open to fluidity. I love playing with gender, and not fitting neatly in anywhere. It’s fun! And these kinds of articles and videos make me feel SO MUCH MORE COMFORTABLE about feeling that way. Thank you Ali! *hugs*

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