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Trans Power in Fashion

The fashion industry has made an important trend of celebrating transgender beauty, and we couldn’t be more delighted to see that Brazilian and transgender model Lea T has just landed a contract with Redken.

When the brilliant Andreja Pejic first graced the Paris shows in January 2011, she walked in Jean Paul Gaultier’s women’s show, only to then grace the Marc Jacobs men’s runway. You might have also spotted her the following year on Britain and Ireland’s Next Top Model, and in the music video for David Bowie’s ‘The Stars (Are Out Tonight)’.

Then came the gorgeous Geena Rocero, who decided to share her story at a TED Talk, showing a hushed audience a picture of a little boy and revealed that she had been ‘assigned ‘boy’ at birth’. She spoke about how she’d had sex reassignment surgery at 19, told few of her friends in New York and continued to focus on her modelling career.

She explained why it was so important that her identity as a transgender woman be known to the world: “I want to do my best to help others live their truth without shame and terror.” Her talk would go on to gain over 2 million views.

Now, the striking Brazilian model Lea T has just landed a contract with Redken. Lea is also a trans model who you may have seen locking lips with Kate Moss on the cover of Love. She will be the face of their Chromatics hair colour line (check out her hair, it is incredible).

Decisions to place strong transgender women in the limelight elsewhere have obviously also helped. When Orange is the New Black’s Jenji Kohan made the unusual (albeit obvious) choice to cast the tremendous Laverne Cox as trans character Sophia Burset, we loved that she smoldered in every scene she was in.

However, Eddie Redmayne’s recent casting as a trans woman in The Danish Girl has left us with a slightly bad taste in our mouths. We tried not to roll our eyes when he described his preparation for the role with such unremarkable simplicity: “I have put on dresses and wigs and makeup. I’m beginning to embark on that and trying to find out who she is.” It is a comment that women everywhere (whether they be trans or cisgender) will realise barely scratches the surface of what it means to be a woman.

Closer to home, Lydia Foy’s success this week in the High Court for the government’s failure to enact laws that recognise her acquired gender is a huge step in the right direction for trans rights and visibility. Dr Foy had sought a birth certificate in her acquired gender, along with compensation for the ‘degrading’ and ‘humiliating’ treatment she had endured.

Whether it’s by placing a trans woman with absolutely gorgeous hair as the the face of a hair care brand, or simply allowing a trans woman to make her acquired gender official on public documents, we are completely behind the trans rights and visibility movement.

It’s great to see that our trans sisters are finally being recognised around the world for the talented, determined and powerful force that they are.

Hannah Popham @HannahPopham

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