Asian Transgender Models Transforming the Industry

Feb 16, 2020 | AA, Philippines, POP, Singapore, STYLE, Thailand

Geena Rocero at TED Conference ©TED

Transgenders are finally moving onto the center stage in the modeling world after decades of rejection. Now the industry is more open to beauty in all forms, not only do they take over headlines, but also magazine covers.

It’s hard to imagine that only six decades ago, British model April Ashley said goodbye to her thriving modeling career because people found out that she was transgender. Thankfully, the modeling landscape around the world has changed. What used to be an industry which closed their doors to the LGBTQ community has now openly embraced all forms of beauty. Get to know some Asian transgender models that are at the forefront of modeling.

Geena Rocero

Born and raised in the Philippines, Geena Rocero made history when she was hailed as the first-ever Asian Pacific transgender Playboy playmate in August 2019. The 35-year-old model is using her influence to inspire other people who had the same dreams as her.

“As the first Trans Asian Pacific Islander Playmate, I feel that I’m making it possible for someone to reach for their biggest dreams just like the people who came before me,” she shared, adding that anyone’s unapologetic expression of their sexuality, gender, and value of unique perspective is what makes them different.

Rocero grew up in the Philippines and supported herself by joining beauty pageants starting at the age of 15. Her supportive mother brought her to San Francisco at age 17 and then moved to New York to model at age 21.

Poyd Treechada

It’s hard not to be awestruck by Poyd Treechada’s alluring beauty. Crowned Miss Tiffany 2004, the fair-skinned beauty queen is known as one of Thailand’s trailblazing figures in the entertainment industry.

Even at the tender age of 4, Poyd already knew that she was born in the wrong body. Unfortunately, she did not have the initial support of her family and even recalls her mother beating her for wearing a skirt.

A lot has changed after Poyd went through her sex-change operation at 17. With over 2 million Instagram followers under her belt, Poyd is now trying her luck not only in modeling but also in the world of acting. She has been cast in large films such as With Love, From Vegas to Macau, Insomnia Lover, and Witch Doctor.

Chella Man

This list would not be complete without one of the most popular transgender men on social media — Chella Man. The YouTube star initially became vital for documenting his transition on social media. Now, he has made a name for himself in the acting and modeling world. Recently, he was even cast as Jericho in DC superhero series Titans.

Man is now viewed as one of the most popular activists and queer artists in the West. He recalls having experienced discrimination himself because he was deaf, Jewish, genderqueer, transmasculine, and a person of color. Despite this, he broke through all hurdles and thanks to the supportive people surrounding him.

The deaf model is well-loved because of his openness, talent to educate people, and his loving relationship with photographer MaryV Benoit. Man has been represented by IMG Model since 2018 and has been featured in some of the biggest magazines including Teen Vogue, Dazed, L’Officiel, and Flaunt.

Andrea Razali

It’s tempting to think Singapore’s first transgender model had it easy in life. With her jet-black locks, perfectly applied makeup, and fit physique, Andrea Razali is every inch of a modern-day goddess.

Because of her squeaky voice and appearance, she was bullied in school which contributed to her body and gender dysmorphia. At 19, she realized that she was destined to be a transgender. This inspired her to start hormone therapy, and undergo gender confirmation surgery.

Now, Razali has signed with Phantom Models and has used her experience of trauma, heartbreak, and abuse to make her stronger. Razali is not only focused on modeling. She is also a professional hair and make-up artist, and philanthropist who works with The T Project, a transgender shelter.

Changing the Industry

Beauty is truly more than skin deep. Now, transgender models are slowly being recognized for their talent in studios and runways. The successful models listed here are an inspiration to people who are currently undergoing their journey of metamorphosis and self-discovery. Did you follow these models on Instagram?