Andreja Pejic on Being a Trans Model, Caitlyn Jenner's Impact, & More

Meghan Blalock

Long before Caitlyn Jenner, there was Andreja Pejic. The world's first model to walk in both male and female runway shows for major designers, Pejic formerly identified as an androgynous male model, before transitioning last year.

Jenner's permanent place in the spotlight has certainly helped shed more light than ever on the trans movement, but Pejic has been battling for the very same exposure for much longer, and has always been at the forefront of trans issues in the fashion world. But what does she think of how Jenner has helped the cause?

"The media is definitely more respectful than it’s ever been [of trans culture]," Pejic told us in a recent interview. "I think representation is improving. It’s great that in the film industry and in fashion, there are opportunities for trans people and talented people who may not have had those opportunities before. In the whole community there needs to be more than just representation, but culturally it’s cool to see something that was always on the fringe of society coming to the forefront. Hopefully more and more people embrace it."

Pejic's role in fashion is a unique one, because when she walked in both men's and women's shows earlier in her career, she was in high demand by designers on both ends of the gender spectrum.

"Someone told me that my career was very punk in a way because I was doing both men's and women's, and I was keeping it very fluid and undefined," Pejic remembers about her early career. "It was definitely a fun stage to have in life for anyone, boy or girl. It was cool to break those boundaries, and at the time, the trans movement and androgyny in fashion were really combined; there was this gray area between gender and that exploration. I’m proud of what I achieved then, and also very happy to move on and finish what I always wanted to do. It was always going to be a stage in my life, and it was always my goal to live life as a woman." 

With all the progress the culture at large has made regarding transgender people, Pejic says that trans models in particular still face a ton of discrimination in the industry. 

"I always say trans models are somewhat treated how African American models were at the late '80s and early '90s," Pejic says. "You feel a little like typecast sometimes, and sort of placed in a box. Certain opportunities are not offered to you because of the fact the clients feel like you are too different. It’s always been my goal to model as a woman and prove that I can do whatever the girls can do—it shouldn’t be based on how you were born, but rather on the way you look now. I think we’re moving in a good direction, but I do think we have definitely more improvements to make."

In her latest major achievement, Pejic scored her first-ever beauty campaign, with Make Up For Ever, for which she both modeled and curated a shadow paletteKeep scrolling to shop the palette now, and to see our favorite Andreja Pejic runway looks of all time!

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