Playboy Names Ines Rau First Transgender Playmate

Playboy Names Ines Rau First Transgender Playmate

A win for transgender women everywhere.

A win for transgender women everywhere.

Text: Megan Kasselberg

French model Ines Rau is officially a Playboy Playmate, making her the first transgender woman to the earn the title in the magazine's 64 year history. The decision was championed by Cooper Hefner, chief creative officer and son of the late Hugh Hefner, who said "it’s the right thing to do. We’re at a moment where gender roles are evolving." November's issue will be first since the death of his father. The cover will honor its founder with a 1965 photograph of Hugh Hefner by Larry Gordon.

Ms. Rau was supposed to be the cover star, but when Mr. Hefner passed two days before the magazine went to print, changes were made accordingly. She has appeared in American Vogue, Italian Vogue, and a Balmain campaign, but Playboy signifies a far more mainstream acceptance of trans women as able to fulfill roles often assigned to cis women alone, particularly as sex symbols in the media. Rau's interview will include a discussion of gender identity in both her personal life and as a model.

Unsurprisingly, reactions were mixed. While many supported Rau's gender identity and commented on her beauty, others seemed unable to accept her existence, let alone womanhood. She has said that these comments have only increased her determination to champion awareness and respect. Playboy responded on its own to the backlash, comparing today's hate to the wave of abhorrent remarks following the announcement of the first black Playmate, Jenny Jackson.

This is not the first time Rau has been in the pages of Playboy, nor is she the first trans model to be featured as such. While Playmate is a title given to models with center-fold features, Rau was fully nude in the May 2014 issue's "Playboy A-Z" section, eliminating any doubt that Hugh Hefner wouldn't have approved the decision to include her, as some on social media have claimed. In 1981, Caroline "Tula" Cossey appeared in the magazine with other Bond girls for the James Bond film "For Your Eyes Only." She was outed against her will soon afterward by a tabloid, but she was featured in a 1991 Playboy solo shoot and on Playboy covers worldwide in 1990, making her the first trans woman to pose for the magazine.

Cooper Hefner continued, "this is really a moment for us to take a step back and say that so much of what the brand stood for in the early years is very much still alive in culture." See Playboy's social media reaction below.

Credits: Banner image courtesy of Playboy

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