Celebrate Trans Day of Visibility Thirsting Over the Sexy Retro Covers of ‘Female Mimics International’

All the images included in this piece belong to MAGCORP, the Magazine Corporation of America and Eros Publishing and are from F.M.I. Female Mimics International Vol. 11-28, 1980-1998 found in the Digital Transgender Archive from the Transgender Oral History Project. 

On Transgender Day of Visibility, certain corporations and publications who usually ignore us — or portray us negatively — will suddenly want to uplift our images and stories. Meanwhile, trans people on the internet will critique this hypocrisy while fairly questioning if we still need a holiday for “visibility.” Aren’t we visible enough? With our existence being legislated upon and politicians inciting violence against us and celebrities doubling down on transphobia and major newspapers “asking questions” about our rights, maybe visibility has gone too far. Some recently out trans person will — thinking they’re the first — likely and rightly tweet: When is Trans Day of Invisibility??

That’s why on holidays like Trans Day of Visibility or Transgender Awareness Week, I always turn to history. Rather than increase the intense visibility of the present, I want to remember — and make visible — the invisibility of the past.

This year, I began my journey with the Digital Transgender Archive, a wonderful resource of photographs and writings from trans history. Some of my favorite discoveries were “As a Woman,” a collection of photographs by stage and costume designer Barry Kay, a selection of personal photographs of a woman named Melissa, the Kentucky history collection, and Les Amies de Place Blanche, a series by photographer Christer Strömholm of trans women in Paris in the 1960s.

But the best discovery was the vast collection of covers from the magazine F.M.I.: Female Mimics International. Billed as “The Original Magazine For Men Who Enjoy Dressing Like Women!” this adult magazine promises dated language, important history, and glamorous portraits of trans women from the 1980s and 1990s.

Based on the covers, the magazine seems to be a mix of personal ads, articles for aspiring transsexuals and crossdressers, and sultry images for transamorous readers of any gender to enjoy. While it’s unclear how involved actual transsexuals were with the creation of this magazine, there’s no denying the beauty and power of the models on the covers — and based on the one complete magazine I could find it appears iconic female impersonator and porn performer and filmmaker Kim Christy was involved.

Even today when trans visibility is oversaturated, I often think about how porn is still the most likely place to see trans women living certain lives. The sex in most trans porn might still be very limited to a fixation on our birth genitals, but the stories are far more diverse than anything you’ll find in Hollywood. Every week new porn scenes are made that would be lauded by the community and win several GLAAD Awards if they had less sex and debuted at film festivals.

And so it’s no surprise looking back at previous decades the best way to see a wide variety of trans women in a wide variety of scenarios is by looking at porn.

You can browse the collection of over 100 covers at the Digital Transgender Archive, but I’ve selected 15 of my favorite covers to share right here. And if you want to flip through a full issue of Female Mimics Magazine you can do so at the Internet Archive. (Because the magazine is softcore, it’s also the rare trans porn — even for today — that’s more focused on faces and tits than genitalia.)

F.M.I. Female Mimics International Magazine Cover, Dressed to Kill with Shalei Lutrelle, an Asian trans woman dressed in Black leather sits on a vanity and looks at herself in the mirror.F.M.I. Magazine Cover, Mary Louise and Georgia America's Most Outspoken Heterosexual Transsexual Couple, a trans Latina with a beauty mark looks down sitting among trees wearing a red tank top and floral skirt.F.M.I. Magazine Cover, 13th Anniversary Salute: The Bad & The Blonde Fair Haired Femme Fatale, a white trans woman with big blonde hair in a pinkish red smokes a cigarette.F.M.I. Female Mimics International Magazine Cover, The World is Her Oyster Jennifer Thomas An Exclusive Interview — Is Broadway Next?, A trans Latina with a flowy white off the shoulder top and big red pants poses.F.M.I. Female Mimics International Magazine Cover, The 19855 She-Male Calendar The Queen of the Universe, a trans woman in shimmery white leans back against a Greek column. F.M.I. Female Mimics International Magazine Cover, Margo & Lisa: Our Cover Girls, Two Black trans women dressed in gold pose sitting next to each other.F.M.I. Magazine Cover, The Illusion of Reality Maya, a close up of a trans woman licking a red lollipop F.M.I. Female Mimics International Magazine Cover, The Art of Femininity, before and after images of a Black trans woman putting a South Asian person in drag.F.M.I. Female Mimics International Magazine Cover, Vanessa Santoni The Queen of the Universe, a white trans woman in a pink dress lies on the floor with one hand draped on her face blonde hair in an up-do F.M.I. Magazine Cover, On the Cover: Julie Bond!, an Asian trans woman rests on one knee next to a mirrorF.M.I. Female Mimics International Magazine Cover, ANGEL, a Black trans woman in a red leather mini skirt and matching jacket with no shirt underneath and big sunglassesF.M.I. Female Mimics International Magazine Cover, Paris, model extraordinaire! The Fashion Runways Private Secret!, a trans Latina in a wide black hate and black top with a gold necklace and gold earrings demures at the cameraF.M.I. Magazine Cover, Midnight in the Garden of the Evil She-Male, a Black trans woman with a sparkling spaghetti strap dress and matching heels and makeup lies on a stage showing cleavage and staring down the camera.F.M.I. Female Mimics International Magazine Cover, The Golden Age of FMI, a close up of a trans woman with smoky eye makeup covering the lower half of her face with shear black fabricF.M.I. Female Mimics International Magazine Cover, Dior's New Line Lady Miss Karen is all things to all men...and women, a naked trans woman sits with her legs and arms crossed.

Happy Trans Day of Visibility to everyone but especially the Female Mimics International Magazine cover girls!

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!

Drew Burnett Gregory

Drew is a Brooklyn-based writer, filmmaker, and theatremaker. She is a Senior Editor at Autostraddle with a focus in film and television, sex and dating, and politics. Her writing can also be found at Bright Wall/Dark Room, Cosmopolitan UK, Refinery29, Into, them, and Knock LA. She was a 2022 Outfest Screenwriting Lab Notable Writer and a 2023 Lambda Literary Screenwriting Fellow. She is currently working on a million film and TV projects mostly about queer trans women. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Drew Burnett has written 516 articles for us.


Contribute to the conversation...

Yay! You've decided to leave a comment. That's fantastic. Please keep in mind that comments are moderated by the guidelines laid out in our comment policy. Let's have a personal and meaningful conversation and thanks for stopping by!