Transgender model Andreja Pejic’s inspirational message to ‘Vogue’ and the world
The fashion world prides itself on embracing diversity — though not at quite the rate we’d like to see — and that appreciation for the “different” has (lately) encapsulated everyone from plus-size models to people of color, and more recently, transgender models. Such is the case with Andreja Pejic, who rocked the fashion scene in 2011 as a male model whose androgynous looks landed her on womenswear runways around the world, even earning her the title of “Prettiest Boy in the World.”
But last year, Pejic announced to that same world that she would be undergoing gender confirmation surgery (the more appropriate term for “gender reassignment surgery”) and in this month’s issue of Vogue, the 23-year-old Australian opens up about her decision to transition and on making history (yet again!) by announcing that she’s the new face of Make Up For Ever — which makes her one of the first transgender models to book a major beauty contract. The entire interview is worth a read, but we’ve pulled some highlights.
On coming to terms with her gender identity as a child
“I wanted to stop puberty in its early tracks,” she [says]. “I was worried about my feet being too big, my hands being too big, my jawline being too strong . . . Society doesn’t tell you that you can be trans. I thought about being gay, but it didn’t fit. . . . I thought, Well, maybe this” — the fantasy of living life as a girl —“is just something you like to imagine sometimes. Try to be a boy and try to be normal.”
On the growing acceptance of trans individuals
Pejic’s success neatly coincides with — and embodies — a kind of cultural and political mainstreaming of transgender identity. “There are just more categories now,” she says. “It’s good. We’re finally figuring out that gender and sexuality are more complicated.”
On conquering her fear that transitioning might hurt her career
“There was definitely a lot of ‘Oh, you’re going to lose what’s special about you. You’re not going to be interesting anymore. There are loads of pretty girls out there,’” she says. At times, what seemed to be plainly mercenary input from industry players would devolve into bigotry. One agent told Pejic, “It’s better to be androgynous than a tranny.” She ignored those voices, and she firmly believes that there is more to her modeling career than cynical stunt casting. “It is about showing that this is not just a gimmick,” she says.
On the idea that she may become an object of curiosity
“Being known to the whole world with this transition, I thought, Who is ever going to love me? How am I going to have a relationship with a man if all of this is public?” she says. “Then I got to a place where I was like, ‘I’m successful and happy with what I’ve achieved. There’s nothing I should be ashamed of. You can take it or leave it.’ ”
Right on, girl. Head to Vogue.com to check out the full interview, including commentary from transgender activists and major influencers in the fashion world.