I am a model. I model men's clothes. The biological roulette made me female. I was the first woman to be signed to the men's board at Ford Models. I was invited earlier this week to speak at a conference for business executives at a "trend school" — the topic: gender. I declined — not for lack of desire to share my experience, strength and hope in some helpful way.
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In some countries, females are still fighting for fundamental rights. But thanks to reputable media outlets, social media and outspoken activists, atrocities and female-centric issues have seen more of an international stage and a call to action than ever before. In the United States, and other liberal nations, women now have limitless opportunities. America finally has its first female presidential candidate. Women are leaders in every field from politics to business, sports and in war zones. Ongoing conversations on the definition of feminism, closing the gender pay gap and other daily inequalities are encouraged and promoted on every social platform.
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An acquaintance here in San Francisco informed me that these women are not merely icons: These heroines are veritable patron saints! When a little boy who is destined to grow up straight has a poster of his favorite sports star, superhero, or astronaut on his bedroom wall, we may conclude that he admires and identifies with him and perhaps even wants to be his icon in some way. I have pondered this phenomenon since I first realized I am gay. As a young child of 10, I would shut myself away during the weekends, curtains closed in the living room, and watch the triple bill of films on Saturday-afternoon BBC TV: Bette Davis. Marilyn Monroe.
Valentina Sampaio becomes Sports Illustrated's first trans model. Written by Kiely Westhoff. She is no stranger to making history.