If you haven't seen it yet, 'transversal' biannual style magazine C★NDY's latest issue is probably its best, most poignant edition yet. Featuring several famous faces of the transgender community on 10 different covers, the issue is guest-edited by transgender model Hari Nef. In the issue, Nef stars alongside male model Andres Velencoso in a romantic editorial shot by photographer Sebastian Faena. However, in an Instagram post by the model, Nef is speaking out against negative feedback she's received from it. But surprisingly, the backlash is actually from Nef's own community. "The only people whose unsolicited opinions i care about are trans people and the girls have responded to this editorial in a way i think might be worth addressing," she prefaced her caption. Nef goes on to explain the difference between her photoshoot with Velencoso, versus how transgender women are typically photographed in fashion editorials. "images of trans femmes being loved rarely exist outside of pornography," Nef wore. "We tend to be hyper-sexualized and objectified within the cisgender gaze. Either that or we're dehumanized as scum or (just as bad) untouchable goddesses."
Nef spoke about this topic to Good back in 2015, telling the interviewer that she's been "asked to get her tits out on almost every job." And the industry's fascination with trans bodies hasn't improved all that much. Despite becoming more inclusive in some respects, the fashion industry still often depict minorities in exploitative ways. It's become all too predictable, really, for photographers and editors alike to fetishize "different" models. For example, transgender plus-size model Shay Neary has typically been photographed nude because designers either don't make clothes that fit her, the stylist doesn't want to go the extra mile to find them, or simply, the photographer wants her to be exposed. And, as Nef explains in her post, editorially (a.k.a. her work beyond film or TV roles — especially, say, her role in Transparent), a transgender model is finally being represented as simply a model, without a trace of tokenism. After signing with IMG in 2015, it was clear Nef was primed for a lustrous, high-profile career. But her efforts in speaking out about trans issues prove that nowadays, being a model really does mean more than just being a pretty face.