Making history: Transgender models Tracey Norman (left) and Geena Rocero (right) grace the cover of Harper’s Bazaar India for the first time. (Photo: Harper’s Bazaar)
Harper’s Bazaar is featuring not one but two transgender models on its cover for the first time. Tracey Norman, the first black transgender fashion and beauty model in the late ’70s and early ’80s, will be one of two transgender models to cover the India edition of this major fashion magazine. Joining her is transgender Filipina model Geena Rocero — making them, according to art director and executive producer Christopher Sollinger’s research, the first two trans cover models for any Harper’s Bazaar.
Sadly, not all magazines were excited by this monumental project, but that doesn’t surprise us. Sollinger told The Cut he shopped his cover series idea around to multiple imprints of Harper’s Bazaar before Harper’s Bazaar India finally signed on. “India is actually very inclusive of transgender people,” Sollinger said.
Tracey Norman was the first black transgender fashion and beauty model in the late ’70s and early ’80s. (Photo: Getty Images)
This nine-model cover series also features Muslim model Hind Sahli, 38-year-old Belgian actress Hannelore Knuts, and Korea’s leading model Soo Joo Park. Tyra Banks is the biggest name among the cover models, but she actually turned down the project at first. Always on board for a good cause, however, as soon as she heard the story and the difficulties Sollinger had been facing getting the covers published, Banks changed her mind, in true TyTy fashion.
The best part is, she did it on her own dime. “Tyra flew to New York at her own expense,” Sollinger said. “She doesn’t need to do a nine-model multicover series, nor do the other models, but she felt moved and wanted to do what she could to make it happen.”
When Norman finally got to see her first magazine cover, she cried, “because it’s what should’ve happened 30 years ago,” Sollinger said. “She’s amazing.”
Transgender Filipino fashion and beauty model Geena Rocero. (Photo: Getty Images)
Thankfully, Norman and Rocero aren’t the first trans models to make a magazine cover. In 2014, Laverne Cox, Carmen Carrera, and Janet Mock joined Rocero on Candy magazine’s all trans cover. Cox was also the first transgender woman to be on the cover of Time. In 2015, Andreja Pejic became the first trans woman to appear in the pages of Vogue, and of course there’s Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair cover.
Even men’s magazines are on board with the movement. Earlier this year, Benjamin Melzer, a fitness model who appeared on the April cover of Men’s Health, became the first trans man to land the cover of a men’s fitness magazine in Europe.
And yet, there are still people sitting around arguing about which bathroom trans people should use. We’ve got a long way to go, but we’ll take what we can get.