You may have seen them in Smirnoff and Budweiser ads, but you may not have recognized how far they have come to get there.
Started in March 2015, Trans Models NYC is a groundbreaking agency for the transgender modeling community.
Despite uncertainty and hesitancy within the industry, fashion magazines like I-D have already seen how the exclusive world of modeling has begun to shift in a new direction.
"I had the idea of starting an agency that was devoted to transgender modeling for a while, but never really had the push. That changed when I realized that the fashion industry was not as inclusive as I had hoped."
This, from TMNYC's founder, Peche.
Originally a hair model from Thailand, she began working as a transgender woman of color for the company TONI&GUY. Although Peche participated in many beauty pageants, including the largest one in her country, she felt there were more meaningful things she could be doing as well.
Her wide array of passions in areas like modeling, fashion and activism sparked ideas in her mind, she told A Plus in an email. "It was not until recently that I was able to put it all together," she added.
"Despite being able to land a few notable campaigns, no agency was willing to take a chance on me or other equally deserving trans models."
After moving to New York to study film and modeling, she decided it was time to start her own agency — one that's "run by and for trans models."
"We believe in ourselves and are here to make an impact," she said. "It would seem like the moment is ripe for a change and we are honored to play a part in the cultural shift that is taking place in society."
Fortunately, the idea has resonated well within the modeling community.
"There has been no backlash in any meaningful way," she explained, but it isn't just about making money for Trans Models NYC. "Success for us goes way beyond securing employment. Trans Models is a vehicle for advocacy and a means of rendering visible and celebrating a people who have been discriminated against and marginalized. Trans models is ultimately about expanding the circle of inclusiveness in our society."
Even though it is a serious business, they have a lighter side as well.
"We like to joke around that we are in it for the 'change.'"
With that, here's to many more years of success for TMNYC and trans models alike.