While trans model Andrej Pejic rocks high fashion world, a bigger story lies under the surface

Andrej Pejic (Photo: andrejpejicmodel.com)

Andrej Pejic (Photo: andrejpejicmodel.com)

THE GUERRILLA ANGEL REPORT — Transgender model Andrej Pejic is being reported as the first transgender model on the cover of a high fashion magazine. Of course, with all the sources being tabloids, we’ll take this with a grain of salt as there may have been others.

However, Pejic is on the cover of the most recent issue of Elle Magazine, Serbia. This in itself is a major accomplishment for any trans person, worthy of recognition — especially how they’ll bring positive PR to the trans community. Like beauty contestant Jenna Talackova, Pejic has the potential to bring about changes in the way society thinks about us in the way we couldn’t possibly pay to have done.

While I’m leaving the details of Pejic’s magazine spread to the fashion magazine and tabloids, I am going to point out the even bigger story here: Pejic is blurring the difference between gender to the point where society’s norms about gender are shattered further. Pejic appears as either male or female (or neither, for that matter) depending on the needs of the client. Indeed, in the Elle spread, Pejic poses both as a male and a female. This certainly will give many a reader pause on their thinking of all things gender. The seeds have been planted. One day, gender won’t matter.

While we’re fighting a slow uphill battle to show the fallacy of two gender thinking with medical professionals, politicians and in the courts, Pejic and others having high public attention are positioned to win the hearts and minds of many in society who may not be persuaded otherwise.

While I’m not sure where the tipping point is where trans equality becomes an unstoppable force, but we ought to milk every opportunity to get there sooner by embracing things some may find distasteful — like high fashion and beauty pageants.

More about Pejic and additional photos: http://lexiecannes.wordpress.com/2012/02/11/trans-boys-girls-andrej-pelic-is-not-telling-good-for-andrej-i-say/

Andrej poses as male or female depending on the needs of the client (Photo on right: Hema)

Andrej poses as male or female depending on the needs of the client (Photo on right: Hema)

Andrej Pejic shows why gender isn't so black and white, is it? It never was.

Andrej Pejic shows why gender isn’t so black and white, isn’t it? It never was.

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Categories: Transgender, Transsexual, Trans

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14 replies

  1. I suppose this can be thought of as positive if you want people to see us as genderless freaks inhabiting some midway point as third genders. Personally I dont want anyone to think I am anything like this person who is a cartoon. Publicity is only good if it portrays us in an accurate fasion. I dont like being lampooned.

    • This PR is portraying Transgender in an accurate fashion: Some of *Pejic’s* actual ways of representing his *trans-gender(s*). He (I read awhile ago that he prefers male pronouns, I don’t know if that is still the case) is hardly a cartoon, he is one of the most beautiful people of any gender to be on the world stage–and I am hardly the only one to think so. Likewise, Pejic working for some of the most renowned venues in the world is hardly him being lampooned, it is Pejic being celebrated. It is sad to me that you don’t know the difference.

      You may be right that Pejic sees himself as a member of a third gender, or you may be wrong. But whatever the case, that is his assignation to make–not yours. And from what I understand, he is not attempting to represent anyone or anything besides himself.

      There are as many ways to be transgender as there are transgender individuals. How ridiculous that you feel it necessary to confine someone who has escaped the prison of normative gender in yet another prison–the compulsion to conform only to *your* brand of nonconformity.

      • Excellent response. Pejic is being him/herself, which is apparently gender fluid. I think the Gender Queer Movement is awesome because ir reflects that gender is a spectrum rather than a binary concept. It certainly coincides with my life experience.

    • Amber, while you’re entitled to your opinions, there ARE people in the “midway point” by birth, are they freaks?

    • I love how, in this hypothetical situation you’ve dreamed up, you draw this circle (I’m assuming people you consider to be “respectably transgender”) and call it [Us], put Pejic on this representative pedestal, and posit that his gender expression is going to be responsible for casting a bad image on yourself and everyone else [in your trans circle].

      I love how you then go on to:

      – make a specific point of letting us know how NOT like him you are (which I would have assumed anyway based on your stifling binary presentation),
      – belittle and marginalize his gender expression to [Cartoon] when there are plenty of cis-hetero-normative folk who wouldn’t think twice about saying the same thing of you,
      – assume that he’s out there, looking for publicity specifically to highlight what it’s like to be [You and/or Anyone Else in your Trans Circle],
      – and finally, assume that he’s out there with the intention of representing or “lampooning ANYONE.

      He’s not there to represent anyone but himself, and/or those who might consider themselves like him (which I would assume are few and far between; Pejic is one of a kind.) Just like I’m not here to represent you, or trans men, or genderqueer folk, or any other number of marginalized, generally considered “distasteful” folk. I’m here to be myself, live my life, follow my dreams, not be invisible, and represent MYSELF, genderflawed though I may be. If you decide to make me your representative, that’s fine with me, but it’s not my responsibility, I don’t want, and I assume Pejic doesn’t, either. He just wants to do what he likes, and why should he stifle his dream because ….someone he doesn’t know might get embarrassed?

      You have a lot of self-education to do on the broadness of the gender spectrum and the basic human right to represent oneself as one sees fit. There ARE some people who consider themselves genderless, as inhabiting a midway point, AND as a third (or other) gender, and what gives you the unmitigated gall to say that those gender expressions are less valid than yours when yours isn’t even orthodox?

      You can’t just take one or two steps outside of the binary, make your own cute little parody box mimicking the limitations you you and so many others have worked so hard to escape, draw a line that says “I’ve gone far enough! Anyone past this point is a FREEAK!”, and assume that ANYONE, cis, trans, or otherwise, will take YOUR gender expression seriously, or even pay you a shred of respect.

      I didn’t want to get mean, but I have to say it- trans people like you, trying to hold back the tides of change in acceptance of gender expression variance, are more dangerous to the movement than the bigoted cispeople we’re struggling against, OR the Pejics of the world that you fear, and you know why? Because your cowardice is infectious. It’s coming from a source on the “inside” of the gender-non-normative community, and young/new GQ people just shaping their worldviews might be looking up to you for guidance, and what you have to say, as ignorant as it may be, just might sound okay and trustworthy to an impressionable mind.

      It horrifies me that there are so many people who still say “I may be ___ but at least I’m not one of those despicable ____’s”, because somehow you fail to see that people right now at this very moment saying that about YOU, and it’s making you squirm in your skin, you just can’t STAND it, but you’re doing it to someone else just to feel better about yourself, and it DISGUSTS me. It’s people drawing circles of exclusion like THAT who are enforcing hatred, bigotry, and ignorance. You’re leading the way for people to take three big steps back, and I say, for SHAME.

    • Binary transitioning transsexuals best figure: 1 in every 500 people (Lynn Conway). Proportion of people who experience gender identity issues significant enough to see a professional about it at some point in their lives: 8% of the population (source: Transgender Lifestyles and HIV-AIDS Risk (1994), Roberta Perkins, School of Sociology University of NSW, p 19. via submission to federal Australian antidiscrimination legislation draft by A Gender Agenda org found here: http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate_Committees?url=legcon_ctte%2Fanti_discrimination_2012%2Fsubmissions.htm )

      So there’s 40 more like Andrej to every one like you. They face more violence more discrimination and have less protection in law than those like you (see studies such as Injustice At Every Turn, TraNZnation, Writing Themselves In 3, etc that study after study shows that non-conformist gender expression is a key factor in experiencing discrimination).

      So if you are going to insist we consider the needs of each group as conflicting then logically their needs are more important than yours, their visibility and representation are more important than yours, and so you will defeat yourself with your own argument.

      On the other hand increasing acceptance of the Majority of Trans who are more like Andrej than like you means that if at any time you or those like you fail to pass 100% successfully you will face less violence, less harassment, less discrimination.

      So you will be in the long term better off from the increasing acceptance and visibility of people like Andrej. You will in fact possibly Owe Your Very Life to it.

      So give these facts and points of logic some good deep thought.

  2. Not really a very big fan of fashion personally, however unlike some feminists I don’t consider fashion to be intrinsically reactionary either.

    What I would say though is that Transgenderism, of any kind, is all about “being oneself”. I’m a trans woman because that’s who I am, I’m not trans simply to make some kind of “political statement”, or to be deliberately “subversive” to some kind of “normative standard”. I’d imagine Pejic is similar, this is what he is, it’s what he enjoys doing. It’s wrong to consider “binary trans” to be better than “non-binary trans”, it’s equally wrong to consider “non-binary trans” to be better than “binary trans”.

    (However, many people in the practical sense will not be able to present as both male and female as easily as Pejic can)

    Another practical concern I have is that some transphobic rad fems would use this opportunity to label all trans people as a “third gender” and therefore deny trans women access to women’s only spaces.

  3. I think the point here is that the fashion articles are putting the gender question in front of people: “Here – look, this is 2013″. It has got to be helpful to have the public even discuss the subject and not have it ignored like women’s rights before the suffragette movement.
    Deciding on how the public is then further informed can be sorted out down the line. For now, I would support any publicity that reinforces a positive side to our lives because, Jeez – I’m sick and tired of hearing all the bad stuff.

  4. It was Lexi who suggested this person is in some fashion going to bring positive PR to the trans community. I dont consider him/her to be trans. Trans people transition which is quite distinct from switching back and forth.

    I believe people should be free to do as they please, just as I am free to be critical of those who treat being transgender or more correctly transsexual as a joke or a game that they like to play. It is one thing to ardently work towards a transition and unfortunately not pass consistently, it is another thing to play at dress up. Sorry but that is how I see this person.

    To the poster who suggested I this persons needs are more important than mine. They are entitled to that opnion but it is not one I share. First of all I do pass 100% of the time and IRL not a soul knows that I have history. So the last thing most legitimate transsexuals want is someone increasing our visibility by portraying us as part time cross dressers. Life is hard enough without spreading inaccurate information.

    I am not better or worse than someone who cross dresses but I am very different and my needs are also very different. I dont need or want acceptance, I already have that, That is transgender talk, who by the nature of there lives need acceptance of their obvious differences. That is also fine, but it has nothing to do with me.

    I should point out for clarity that I am transsexual – not transgender and it is the needs of people in my own situation that concern me. Drag queens and cross dressers live very different lives than we do.

    I do not believe this person is any more than a rebellious youngster who enjoys being outrageous. I used the term genderless freak to make a point, I dont believe such people really exist in that they are making a lifestyle choice not working to address a medical condition.

    So go ahead and hate away. Its nothing compared to what I would i have to experience if people in general thought I was something like this person. I am sure they will be fine, it is the rest of us who will be in danger.

    • “…I do pass 100% of the time and IRL not a soul knows that I have history. So the last thing most legitimate transsexuals want is someone increasing our visibility by portraying us as part time cross dressers. Life is hard enough without spreading inaccurate information.”

      The thing I’m having a problem with here is that you’re still considering your own, specific, terrified, binary experience as the only legitimate way to be trans. You explain your own history, and then cite it as the basis for all trans experience. You’re voting yourself as the representative of “most legitimate transsexuals” here when you don’t even seem to know the demographic you’re assuming spokesmanship for. I think maybe if you were representing “most transsexuals”, then it would be evident- one, even just one person, might jump in and defend your point of view. Sadly this is not the case.

      Once again too, you’ve set yourself up in this nice area of “ways it’s cool to be trans” and you’re kicking people in the face for “doing it wrong”, when there are people who could argue that, even in your strict, binary setup, you’re the one doing it wrong. By not taking the responsibility of being visible (even as a nice, normal, mentally stable, passing individual with a nice job and a home)- by not representing your fellow trans folk as people who CAN be “normal”- by hiding away and not telling anyone anything, you:

      1) are doing more to hurt your cause than those who are representing demographics who don’t even have anything to do with you, and
      2) have no room to stand, in giving up your voice, then judging those who DO choose to speak out and do what they want.

      Try to look at it like this. There are two people who are disabled. One has lost use of his legs, one is blind. These are wildly different disabilities but still on the whole these people are part of that same differently-abled community. The one who uses a wheelchair has always dreamed of being a model, and surprise surprise, the world shifts in a way that welcomes models in wheelchairs. What could she do but pursue her dream?
      The other is ashamed of his disability and hides behind sunglasses and is so good at pretending not to be blind that nobody knows it, and while skills like that are a thing to be proud of, it’s not helping the blind community break through any stigmas if he always hides it.
      Then the blind guy hears that the wheelchair girl has become a model, and because being proud of overcoming challenges in her diversity is against his way of thinking, blind guy trashes on wheelchair girl. Somehow he thinks that not only will people translate the girl’s pride as a joke, but it will reflect badly on him. Are you getting how silly this is yet?

      There are so many different ways to be trans, and you invalidating those ways is as hurtful as cisgendered people invalidating YOUR experience.

      Some people’s minds do move freely between two (or more!) genders, and you’re still invalidating that experience to the level of “playing dress up” when there are cisfolk who would say the same about you. NOT ALL PEOPLE ARE ONE GENDER, ALL THE TIME. What Pejic is doing is positive for THAT section of the trans community, and you have no room to speak on what he’s doing for your subset because the gender expression he’s speaking for is totally different.

      I understand that there are a lot of ignorant people out there who are going to lump all trans* folk together, and the fact that they can’t tell the difference yet just means that YOU need to be more visible, not that other people need to be less. Okay?

      Stop worrying about how people might represent you. Represent yourself.

  5. This is all so ridiculously stupid. It’s no wonder we are all still struggling so hard for acceptance. We keep fighting among ourselves. When I say ‘we’ I’m referring to every aspect of the LGBTQ community. We can’t even accept each other, yet we cry out for society to accept us.
    I read these comments and see so many valid points on both sides of the coin. But instead of combining them and standing together united, we continue to insist that only our own personal viewpoint is the correct one. And in doing so we alienate those who could be our greatest allies.
    In the trans community alone, we can’t even agree on how to label or catagorize ourselves, and there are many who argue because they hate labels of any kind.
    Some insist on being classified as transsexual. Others insist that we all fit under the transgender umbrella.
    I have watched videos of a couple of different interviews with Andrej. And in his own words he has stated that he does not consider himself as transgender, nor is it his intention to act as a representative of such. Quite simply, he is lucky enough to have the looks that allow him to model as either gender required, or any variation in between, and is capitolizing on that ability.
    I agree that his high visability can be very positive PR for the trans community because as stated, it might give cause for some of the unaccepting to rethink or question their positions. Most of the general public are going to view him as transgender, unaware that he actually is not. But the whole point is that his presence, and his achievements can be viewed as a stepping stone that opens the door for a broader range of thinking for many, and that can only be a good thing for the trans community.
    I’m a 58 year old transsexual woman who has been living fulltime as such for the past 5 years, and I do not pass well. My voice, as well as many of my physical characturistics give me away. But I’ve learned that carrying myself with confidence and diginity allows me to simply ‘blend in’ for most situations.
    Are my struggles any different than the weekend crossdresser? Most definitely. The occasional crossdresser can simply revert to male mode if necessary, but I am who I am every moment of my life, everywhere I go.
    But that doesn’t mean that either one of us has a greater or lesser need for acceptance and respect as human beings than the other.
    If I were able to totally pass as a biological female 100% of the time, would I live my life in stealth, never letting anyone know of my history? Not this girl.
    I know a few transwomen who are like that.
    That’s their choice, and to a degree I can understand their feelings. After all, isn’t all that any of us want is to simply live a quiet happy normal life? But living in stealth does nothing to help promote the acceptance of others faced with the same struggles. Personally, I could never be that selfish. On several occasions I’ve met people who would have otherwise avoided a trans individual, but due to the situation and circumstances, were forced to communicate and associate with me. After a brief period of cummunication and getting to know me, they have all stated that meeting me has opened their eyes and given them a whole new perspective and understanding of what a trans person is really like.
    The thing so many of us fail to realize is that regardless of whether we are gay, bi, lesbian, transgender, or genderqueer,, whatever our differences are, we are all faced with the same demons,, discrimination and lack of acceptance. And the more we fight among ourselves, failing to unite and stand together, the longer it’s going to take to defeat discrimination and gain that acceptance.

  6. Thanks for your comments everyone!

Trackbacks

  1. “Genderless Freaks-” another rant. « Trans Mission: Freedom!
  2. Trans model Andreja Pejic has SRS surgery, now identifies as female « LEXIE CANNES STATE OF TRANS

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