The future for Transgender models is beginning to look positive. Within the past two years, a couple of Transgender modeling agencies are being created as a result of the lack of inclusion and the use of social media to create the demand. In a Vice article written in 2017 named “These Trans Modeling Agencies Pave the Runway for Transgender Acceptance,” founder of Apple Modeling explains her motivation for the creation of her modeling agency. Peche Di explains, “She founded the agency when she was having difficulty finding work. For one modeling job, Di didn’t tell a client she was trans, and she was cut out of the campaign when the client found out. Di saw this kind of thing happening all the time outside of her own experience, which prompted the mission of the agency. She wanted not only to represent models for their personality and their looks but also take a stand against ongoing prejudice in the fashion industry” (Sayej 2017). As a result, Apple Modeling Agency became a first of its kind to represent Transgender models. Shane Henise, a Transgender model, explains “I am so happy and honored to be representing the community and bringing visibility where there hasn’t been before.” Henise told VICE Impact. “This is a significant step towards normalization and acceptance of trans people and trans love. Henise is represented by Trans Models New York, New York City’s first transgender modeling agency. It’s part of a growing movement of trans models and modeling agencies making their mark on the fashion industry. But it seems to be more than just an agency; it’s also an advocacy group and community for trans people in fashion. (Sayej 2017).
The opening of the world’s first Transgender modeling agency inspired similar agencies to follow. In the article written by Nadja Sayej, she cites, “Another trans modeling agency on the rise is Slay Models, which is run by Cecilio Asuncion, a Los Angeles-based writer and filmmaker who directed a documentary on trans women in 2012 called What’s the T” (Sayej 2017). Slay Model Management is a California based modeling agency representing transgender fashion talent. In their mission statement Slay Modeling states, “We see trans individuals as beautiful. Our strong commitment to developing them as successful models is not about quantifying the model’s gender; it is about their passion and commitment to be the best possible models they can be. We’re here to Slay, and we’re here to stay” (slaymodels.com 2018). Even with these success stories, Slay Modeling recognizes the discrimination still present in the fashion industry, especially for trans models, “Trans models can and will fight discrimination in the industry by simply existing, no longer hiding their true selves,” said Asuncion. “From the get-go, it was never about selling a ‘trans thing.’ It’s about having an agency that has strong, employable models” (Sayej 2017).
Both Slay Modeling, and New York Transgender modeling agencies are using this as a platform to bring Transgender awareness and strive for equality in the fashion industry. Kami Sid, who is an international Transgender model still struggles to find representation in her home country of Pakistan. Kami Sid states, “Modeling is a duty and responsibility. It’s essential to raise awareness about the transgender community. But it remains a struggle. Currently, we are fighting for our equal rights opportunities” (Sayej 2017). With the rise of Transgender modeling agencies and the messages created by the Transgender community for their fight for equal rights, we may see a union between the Instagram modeling realm and the opportunity to sign with a Transgender modeling agency for future Transgender fashion models. Many of these models who have joined these Transgender modeling agencies have used Instagram and the hashtag #transgendermodel to direct potential clients and agents to their Instagram profile.
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