Top 15 Most Beautiful Transgender Women of All Time Top 15 Most Beautiful Transgender Women of All Time
Top 10 Most Beautiful Transgender Women in 2023 Top 10 Most Beautiful Transgender Women in 2023
Most Famous Transgender Models Of All Time. Photo: Knowinsiders.
Most Famous Transgender Models Of All Time. Photo:

When it comes to transgender visibility, the fashion industry clearly still has some work to do.

Several trans models, designers, and activists are making waves in the fashion business, following in the footsteps of trans pioneers like April Ashley and Tracey "Africa" Norman from the 20th century.

Although there is still much work to be done, the fashion industry has made gains in recent years toward greater tolerance and equality for trans people. About a decade ago, Isis King made history by being the first trans woman to compete for America's Next Top Model. Her storyline on the show sparked a wider discussion about trans representation and visibility in American media.

Who is the most famous and hottest transgender models of all time?

(Compiled and voted by

1. April Ashley

After years of suffering, George Ashley, who was born in Liverpool in 1935, underwent the ground-breaking procedure in Casablanca in 1960. She was beaten as a child for being different and then endured torturous psychiatric treatment as an adult because she believed she was a woman trapped in a man's body.

April Ashley, an English model, is recognized as the first transgender model to achieve success. She was one of the first Brits to undergo sex reassignment surgery; she was born in Liverpool, England, in 1935, and underwent the procedure at age 25. After relocating to London, she started signing contracts with renowned photographers left and right. She also worked on the editorial staff of prestigious magazines and on the runway. Her career was ended in 1961 after she was outed by tabloids. Since then, she has received recognition in an exhibition at the Museum of Liverpool and had an autobiography published.

She hid her past, but the Sunday People tabloid exposed her in 1961 under the headline "The extraordinary case of top model April Ashley: 'Her' secret is out," ending her modeling career. The fascinating thing about April Ashley is that she brought up all the transgender life issues that are still being discussed today more than 50 years ago. She passed for a woman and was celebrated as the object of heterosexual male desire in a way that was insouciantly subversive; she was a lingerie model for Vogue until a friend sold her identity to the media for £5. "My agent told me over the phone that April's career was over. In this town, you won't ever find another job "2013 saw her tell the BBC.

She was born into a world where boys who acted like girls were beaten and reviled and scorned. She lived into – and helped create – a world where everyone has the right to the life they need to live. Isn't that, quite simply, liberating?

She had a one-night stand with Michael Hutchence, who was just starting to become famous with INXS, in 1983 despite being close to 50. In 2004, when the government passed the Gender Recognition Act, April was finally able to call herself a woman legally after a long battle. She didn't receive a new birth certificate stating that she was born a woman until 2005, with the assistance of an old housemate named John Prescott.

Top 10 Most Famous Transgender Models Of All Time
April Ashley photographed in 1964 and 2015: VIC SINGH/REX FEATURES AND JUDE EDGINTON

2. MiMi Tao

The 17th season of "Project Runway" featured the first transgender model in 2019.

Tao stated on the show, "I have worked so hard to get here, especially for the transgender people, they need to work harder than other people." "I'm so happy to be here. I'm Project Runway's first transgender model."

Tao was raised in Thailand as a Buddhist monk-in-training before she began wearing makeup and mixing up genders. Tao was born there. She relocated to the US, signed a modeling contract, and was subsequently chosen for the reality competition program.

"I want to change the industry," Tao said on "Project Runway" in 2019. "I want to inspire all the transgender young generation who have a dream. Keep knocking the door. If they don't open, the door is going to break one day."

Despite training as a Buddhist monk, Mimi Tao always knew that lifestyle wasn’t for her. Training under former Thai model Rojjana “Yui” Phetkanha, Tao had her sights on becoming a supermodel in New York City. After debuting as Project Runway’s first trans model, Tao continues to walk fashion week runways and star in editorials.

She remembers, "It was a really positive experience and I got a lot of support from the people around me, from the designers on the show to the crew working on set. She does, however, also admit that it took three years of auditioning for her to be chosen for the program.

"My friends and the modeling agency would discourage me from trying again every time I failed the audition. But I persisted in going each year until I succeeded," the 27-year-old Thai native says. She would rather call it optimism than what some might call stubbornness. "It's in my nature to keep trying until I achieve my goals."

She was battling for something bigger than herself at the same time. She claims that another factor that motivated her was the rarity of transgender people appearing on well-known television programs like Project Runway. "I distinctly recall telling myself that even if the judges don't like me after the auditions, at least they'll know that I exist. That, in my opinion, is preferable to sitting at home and waiting for opportunities to present themselves or for others to speak up on my behalf.

Top 10 Most Famous Transgender Models Of All Time
MiMi Tao. JP Yim/ Getty

Tao claims that her time spent attending temple school in Thailand had a significant impact on her positive outlook on life. She developed an early interest in Buddhism and the monastic life as a result of growing up close to temples. She made the decision to join the monastery when she was 11 years old, and six months later she was ordained as a monk. Six years later, she left the monastery because she wanted to work to provide for her family. She claims that at this point, she had had enough time to come to terms with who she was and her place in the world.

3. Leyna Bloom

Bloom was born in Chicago to a Filipino mother and an African-American father. “I’m representing Filipina, I’m representing black, I am representing people who have been immigrants,” she told The New York Times. For them, I’m a vessel of change.”

When Bloom was a child, she read fashion magazines and, like millions of others, dreamt of appearing in their pages one day, according to Gay Times. In 2017, she made her dream come true by becoming the first trans woman of colour to appear in Vogue India.

Bloom isn’t only lighting up the catwalk, but the big and small screens too. In 2019, she starred in the movie Port Authority that screened at the Cannes Film Festival, becoming the festival’s first leading trans actress of colour. Now she’s in the final season of the hit FX series Pose with “soulmate” Indya Moore. She also appeared in the film Asking For It alongside Kiersey Clemons and Ezra Miller, which debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival this year.

Leyna Bloom's modeling career began at the same time she came out as trans. It was 2014, and she graced a Candy magazine cover highlighting trans women. Since then, she's walked in 2017's New York Fashion Week — the first time the event welcomed such diversity. That same year, the Filipino and African American model was the first trans woman of color to grace the cover of Vogue India.

In 2021, Bloom made history again when she became the first trans woman of color to model 12 swimsuits in the pages of Sports Illustrated. The model wrote on her Instagram that the achievement was "bigger than my wildest infinite dreams."

"Everything that we want, need, and seek is inside of us," Bloom told Essence in 2019. "We need to find things inside us that we don't see in the world and then go out and create them. We are in a world where we don't fit in, so we need to create one where we do. That's our responsibility, the gift we need to pass on."

When Leyna Bloom recently became the first trans woman of colour to be featured in Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue – and the first trans person ever on its cover – she made the world sit up and take notice.

Top 10 Most Famous Transgender Models Of All Time
Model and actress Leyna Bloom has set a series of firsts as a trans woman of colour. Photo: @leynabloom/Instagram

4. Nathan Westling

Nathan Westling began modeling in 2015 and quickly rose to the top of the field, landing jobs with Marc Jacobs, Versace, Prada, and Chanel. It was declared that Westling would transition in 2019.

The runway is nothing new to Nathan Westling. In 2013, he made his Marc Jacobs debut as Natalie. Since then, he has appeared in commercials for brands like Chanel, Versace, Prada, and Christian Dior. Westling took a break from modeling after transitioning in 2019, but he has stated that he will probably return to the world of fashion. Westling moved from New York to the sunny streets of Los Angeles as Nathan.

In 2010, Westling made his name by having his hair dyed red for the Marc Jacobs campaign with Miley Cyrus. In addition, he received a lot of attention for his red hair during New York Fashion Week 2014. Westling, a favorite of designers like Marc Jacobs and Nicolas Ghesquière, rose to prominence as one of fashion's most sought-after muses in the 2010s before taking a break beginning in October 2018 to pay attention to his well-being.

Westling told CNN in 2019: "I feel like I've been wearing like a mask my whole life." "It felt as though I had finally arrived once I took off that mask. I'm not sure. I'm no longer covered by a skin that makes me feel inauthentic. I'm not pretending to be someone I'm not anymore; I'm not playing a character. I don't feel as though I am forced to be in-between things in some strange way."

In addition to joining a growing community of transgender models that includes Lea T, Dara, and Teddy Quinlivan, Westling intends to continue working in the position he has held since he was 16 years old. In the CNN interview, Westling stated that a large number of the designers and photographers he had previously collaborated with had already expressed a desire to continue doing so in the future. Westling also claimed at the time that he had landed a significant fashion magazine cover, though he would not specify which one. But he had claimed that the shoot had already happened.

Top 10 Most Famous Transgender Models Of All Time
Nathan Westling. Photo: Collier Schorr/Courtesy of The Society

5. Chella Man

Actor, artist, and activist Chella Man is Jewish and Chinese. He is also genderqueer and deaf. There is a severe lack of representation for young, Deaf, queer, Jewish, Asian, and transgender artists, as he explained to Teen Vogue. I made the decision to serve as my own advocate.

Man was born and raised in Central Pennsylvania, and at the age of 17, he moved to New York City, becoming the agency's first transgender and Deaf signee. Since then, he has also spoken at TEDX events about transitioning and written for Conde Nast's groundbreaking queer publication them. His incredibly popular YouTube channel is also focused on this subject; it is a place full of openness and knowledge where he talks about everything from his top surgery to his relationship with photographer MaryV Benoit.

Man is not only a respected voice within the LGBTQ+ community in New York; he is also a queer activist and active artist in the city's circles. Man says, "The prejudice I experience as a Deaf, Jewish genderqueer, trans masculine person of color powers my work." Even though he has many talents, he attributes his success to those who surround and encourage him: "The chosen family I've been fortunate enough to find here in New York makes me most proud. My identity and my life have been saved by their existence.

Man stated to Teen Vogue, "I never imagined myself modeling," in 2018. "I did not think of myself as beautiful growing up in a small-minded Central Pennsylvania. Back then, when I identified as a cisgender girl, there was no testosterone and no top surgery. I now understand that my perceptions of beauty, as well as my struggles with identity and gender dysphoria, were distorted by conservative culture and a lack of representation. Confidence, sincerity, and strength are the characteristics of true beauty."

In 2019, a man was cast as the deaf superhero Jericho in DC's "Titans" television series.

Top 10 Most Famous Transgender Models Of All Time
Chella Man. Photography Ryan Duffin
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6. Laith Ashley

Laith Ashley, one of the most prominent male trans models working today, has appeared in a number of high-profile advertising campaigns, including one for Calvin Klein underwear. He was a social worker at an LGBT community health center prior to becoming a model. The role model continues to serve as an example for the trans community and has a heart of gold.

At the age of four, Laith discovered his sexual preferences. He pauses to consider how he represents a community that cannot be portrayed by just one person's story, adding, "I want to make sure I say this perfectly." Since there is such a wide range of LGBTQ people, Laith can never satisfy everyone. But he wants to. He claims that he is constantly trying to please others.

Similar to this, when he was 19, he discovered YouTube videos of trans people recording their transitions. "Oh, my God," I said. I was overcome by fear when I said, "This is who I am." I also "saw everyone living their authentic lives, being able to go to work and make a living. In my mind, I still wanted to be my parents' little girl." Wow, I can do this, I thought to myself," he says. He had come out as trans in November 2013, but there had been no medical transition. He learned that Barneys was running a trans campaign from one of his trans friends. Together, they went to the casting. Laith admits, "I didn't think I was going to get it." Then I received a callback.

He eventually came out as trans in November of 2013. Later that day, January 22, 2014, Laith started his medical transformation into a full man.

Laith Ashley's modeling career started when he uploaded images of himself wearing Calvin Klein underwear to Instagram. He finally made it big by modeling on "RuPaul's Drag Race" and participating in a Diesel advertisement. In 2018, he also made an appearance in an episode of "Pose."

Ashley stated to British GQ in 2018 that "for a long time, we were taught that femininity for men was something that could be degrading or decrease what it means to be a man." Just be yourself; own who you are, she advised. "And I think it actually makes you a more rounded, more complete person."

Top 10 Most Famous Transgender Models Of All Time
Laith Ashley. Santiago Felipe/ Getty

7. Hunter Schafer

When Hunter Schafer was 18 years old, she signed with Elite Model Management and started her career. Schafer walked the runways for Dior, Helmut Lang, and Miu Miu in a matter of years. She finally made it big when she was paired up with Zendaya in the HBO hit show "Euphoria."

Schafer told Marie Claire 2019 that being at this new level of visibility is "really wild." "I'm still getting used to it and trying to figure it out. Transgender people who are enthusiastic about the representation on the show have written me quite a few messages."

Due to her modeling experience—Schafer had walked the runways for brands like Dior and Miu Miu before being cast in Euphoria—her red carpet and promotional appearances quickly established her as a full-fledged style icon as well. Schafer has gained attention for mixing up edgier high-end labels like Loewe, Mugler, and Rick Owens with up-and-coming designers like Lou Dallas, CDLM, and Charlotte Knowles. She has also done so because of the palpable joy she takes in dressing in fashion; you're more likely to see her grinning broadly and swishing her Givenchy skirt than giving the standard step-and-repeat death stare.

Top 10 Most Famous Transgender Models Of All Time
Courtesy of Hunter Schafer
You may recognize Hunter Schafer from the runways of Marc Jacobs, Christian Dior, and Miu Miu, or, most notably, from HBO's Euphoria. Before the 20-year-old became a model and actress, however, Schafer was always a trans activist. As a high schooler, Schafer protested for trans rights, even suing North Carolina over the bathroom bill, which requires people to use public restrooms according to the gender they were assigned at birth.

8. Lea T

Transgender Lea T, a transgender model from Brazil who is also known as Leandra Medeiros Cerezo, was one of the first. Designer Riccardo Tisci, a close friend of hers, hired her for his Givenchy advertisement in 2010. (the T in her professional name stands for Tisci). She has since made appearances in Love and Vogue Paris, as well as on one of Oprah's final programs. She is one of the first transgender models to front a significant beauty brand as the face of Redken. Lea T has taken a break from modeling, but the Cut managed to catch up with her in Paris to ask her about Caitlyn Jenner, what it takes for attitudes to change, and whether or not she sees herself as an icon.

Lea T, a woman who is openly transgender, started out as the face of Givenchy. Her modeling career took off, and she appeared in issues of LOVE and French Vogue. The transgender model from Brazil made history in 2014 when she was named the face of Redken, the first transgender person to do so.

Lea T said to Vice in 2014: "There is still a lot of work to be done, but I have to admit that society has started to have a different approach towards the transgender community in recent years." "Some societies are beginning to accept and believe in us compared to years ago. Our society is entering a new era where people are beginning to believe in us. As I said, I anticipate this will occur more frequently, which makes my heart happy."

The gorgeous Lea T made history in 2019 when she was named the new spokesmodel for Redken haircare. "I love working with Redken because they appreciate all kinds of beauty," Lea T stated at the time.
Top 10 Most Famous Transgender Models Of All Time
Lea T. Rosdiana Ciaravolo/ Getty

9. Theodora 'Teddy' Quinlivan

Theodora "Teddy" Quinlivan's modeling career took off after Nicolas Ghesquière, the creative director of Louis Vuitton, discovered her in 2015. Two years later, in an interview with CNN Style, she came out as a trans woman. She is not only one of the most popular models right now, but she is also a vocal supporter of the transgender community.

Teddy Quinlivan's career took off after Nicolas Ghesquière, the creative director of Louis Vuitton, made her famous. She walked the runway for Jeremy Scott and Diane Von Furstenberg. Quinlivan came out as transgender two years after she began modeling.

I've been presenting as cisgender (a person who identifies with the sex they were assigned at birth) for such a long time that I'm definitely a little bit nervous, Quinlivan admitted to CNN in 2017. "I've been living as a cis female since I transitioned when I was 16 years old. I was extremely fortunate to have won the genetic lottery because I had a particular appearance and my voice hadn't changed. That privilege gave me a lot of self-assurance to date, work in the fashion industry, and walk down the street where people would assume I was a "normal" girl."

She was Chanel Beauty's first transgender model to be hired for an ad campaign in 2019.

She declared on Instagram at the time, "I am the first openly trans person to work for the house of Chanel, and I am deeply humbled and proud to represent my community. "The world will insult you, spit on you, and declare that you are useless. Because if you give up, you'll never be able to cry tears of victory, it's up to you to find the strength to get up and keep going."

Theodora "Teddy" Quinlivan made history for the renowned maison when she was named the first openly transgender model to represent Chanel Beauty in August 2019. Nicholas Ghesquière, the creative director of Louis Vuitton, made the discovery in 2015, but she did not come out as transgender until September 2017. Since then, she has walked for a variety of fashion houses, including Carolina Herrera, Saint Laurent, Dior, Jeremy Scott, Louis Vuitton, and more.

Top 10 Most Famous Transgender Models Of All Time
Teddy Quinlivan. Edward Berthelot/ Getty

10. Valentina Sampaio

Easily one of the most talked about models of 2019, Brazilian-born Valentina Sampaio made history as Victoria's Secret's first-ever transgender model. Victoria's Secret aside, the 23-year-old has quite the CV, having previously been a spokeswoman for L'Oréal and appeared on the covers of ELLE U.S., Vanity Fair Italia and Vogue Brasil.

"The world has taken huge steps for transgender people in recent years," Sampaio told Buzzfeed in 2017. "My cover is another small step — an important step that shows we have the force to be Vogue cover girls. The fashion industry is an instrument to raise flags promoting diversity, where things are more fluid and beauty evolves. Fashion is a world that's freer."

When Sampaio was hired as one of L'Oréal Paris' brand ambassadors in 2017, she also made history as the first transgender model for the company. Earlier, onInternational Women's Day in 2016, the company shared Sampaio's story as she received her new identification as Valentina for the first time.

Sampaio claims in the video that it was her first "official" women's day and that she was seen getting ready for the photo for her new identification as a woman by applying makeup and doing her hair. "All trans people should believe that they can achieve anything they want to achieve — any profession," Sampaio said in a recent interview with GLAAD.

Top 10 Most Famous Transgender Models Of All Time
Valentina Sampaio in Italy. Photo: Instagram.

Sampaio gained notoriety when, in 2020, she became the first transgender model to appear in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. She will now pose for the magazine for a second consecutive year, making her one of two trans women to do so in 2021. In 2020, she told Vogue, "The team at SI has created yet another groundbreaking issue by bringing together a diverse set of multifaceted, attractive women in a creative and dignified way." I feel honored and thrilled to be a part of this.

Although the issue won't be released until June, we have to agree with editor MJ Day when she refers to her as "one of the most breathtakingly beautiful women I have ever met" and praises her for her advocacy work.

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