It’s been quite a month for Nicole Gibson. Two weeks ago, the willowy blonde made her modeling debut in a warmup event for London Fashion Week. Today, she completes a lifelong transition when she undergoes gender reassignment surgery.
Nicole, 32, made headlines at the Catwalk For Change show on Sept. 6 when it was revealed that she was a transgender woman who quit her day job as a pub waitress in hopes of starting a modeling career. Adding even more drama to the occasion was the subsequent news that Nicole would undergo GRS today after doing a two-year course of hormone therapy.
The C4C show was organized by the group Models For Diversity, which campaigns for greater diversity in the shapes, sizes and races of women hired for fashion and beauty modeling. Its LFW event piggybacked on the launch of The Diversity Coalition, which saw supermodels Iman and Naomi Campbell publicly calling for an end to racism in fashion presentations.
For Nicole, who grew up as a boy named Glen, the catwalk event was the latest triumph in a long journey toward self-realization. Today’s surgery is the next step.
“To me it is just something that I have to do,” she told reporters after the C4C event. “It is like having two horns on my head that I have to get rid of to become the person that I have always felt I was inside.”
Nicole’s situation highlights the gradual emergence of transgender women in professional modeling in North America and Europe. But she wasn’t the only TG model to make a fashion week appearance. In New York, TG model Arisce Wanzer (above) walked for Nelson Tavarez and others in Latin Fashion Week events last week.
And last month, America’s Next Top Model introduced TG contestant Virgg in its new mixed-gender competition — although she withdrew after the first episode, citing the stress associated with her hormone therapy regimen.
Another TG model, Isis King (below), appeared in two cycles of ANTM in 2008 and 2011, and underwent gender reassignment surgery between appearances. Today she is a busy model, fashion designer and motivational speaker.
And transgender fashion models could become more visible in the near future, after American Apparel — which has a long history of LGBT advocacy, stunt casting and button-pushing marketing — recently issued this casting call for transexual models.
As for Nicole GIbson, she’s already lined up her next runway assignment, post-surgery.
“They say you have not really made it as a model until you walk along the catwalk in a sheer dress with your nipples showing, and here I was doing it in my first show,” she said. “Luckily, thanks to the hormones, I have quite a nice pair now.”