Transgender women pose for ‘Where’s my Vanity Fair?’ covers #transisbeautiful

Last week, transgender activist and Orange is The New Black star Laverne Cox issued a thoughtful statement about Caitlyn Jenner’s historical Vanity Fair cover. She wrote, in part, that “Most trans folks don’t have the privileges Caitlyn and I now have” and added that she hoped that the love and admiration shown for Caitlyn “can translate into changing hearts and minds about who all trans people are as well as shifting public policies to fully support the lives and well being of all of us.” Laverne also wrote about cisnormative beauty standards and how the most vulnerable trans people, including the poor, women of color and women who do not conform to beauty standards, should be just as safe moving through society as those who do.

There’s a new movement for trans women to pose for their own Vanity Fair covers and post them on social media. Buzzfeed explains that the #MyVanityFairCover movement was started by Crystal Frasier (below) and her roommate Jenn Dolari, who first tweeted “Where’s My Vanity Fair?” This brings more transgender women and more trans issues into the conversation and helps remind us that there so many trans people who are being affected by Caitlyn coming out. Here are a few of the covers posted. Some of these touched me and quite a few made me smile.

I love this! People rag on Caitlyn Jenner, because she can’t escape the fact that she’s part of the Kardashian machine. If she wasn’t in that position, this story might not have the traction it does despite her incredible Olympic accomplishments. For all you can say about Caitlyn Jenner, she’s brought these issues to our attention in a way that’s never been done to date.

Caitlyn has a new official twitter account, as you’ve probably heard, and currently has around 2.5 million followers. She posted this photo on Friday of herself with some girlfriends. #transisbeautiful is the hashtag started by Laverne Cox. Laverne explained during a recent speech that it’s about “people celebrating imperfections” instead of simply striving to blend in.

You can see more covers at and on Jenn Dolari’s twitter.

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48 Responses to “Transgender women pose for ‘Where’s my Vanity Fair?’ covers #transisbeautiful”

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  1. Vampi says:

    Bravo!! This is awesome.

  2. Shambles says:

    Thank you so much, CB, for starting my day on such an inspirational note! All of these women are radiantly beautiful, but it’s the type of beauty you feel, not the type you see. Their inner beauty shines outward through their courage and grace. To all these ladies: thank you for sharing your stories, and thanks again, CB, for bringing those stories to us today. I gots all the warm fuzzies.

  3. Esmom says:

    I love it.

  4. Tracy says:

    Laverne Cox, a thoughtful articulate woman, is a gift to us all. Put here to help us understand. Thank you, Laverne.

  5. Kip says:

    I wish Caitlyn had done the cover how these women are doing it, or featured trans women from all walks of life with her on the cover. But brava to these women!

  6. GiGi says:

    I love this! One of the things that’s frustrated me about the Caitlyn Jenner VF controversy is the notion that Caitlyn is “doing it wrong” or that “she doesn’t know what it is to be a woman”. There is no doing it wrong. Everyone’s journey is their own and there are as many varieties of trans men and women as there are cis men & women. I just need everyone to stop “shoulding” all over Caitlyn & just allow for the fact that her journey is hers – she’s only able to tell her own story. If you want to hear a different persepective, talk to a different trans person – get involved in your local LGBT alliance groups. Everyone has a story!

    • Enya says:

      THIS. Well said.

    • Otaku Fairy says:

      I agree with you. Caitlyn Jenner is just one person. While she can definitely take a stand for other transgender people, it’s wouldn’t be realistic to hold her up as some sort of embodiment of what all trans women do or feel or ask her to conform to what image we, as cisgender women and feminists, deem acceptable. There are going to be some who want to present as more ‘femine/glam’ and some who don’t, and that’s okay. I like how they managed to talk about pressure that man face to conform to a narrow cisnormative and white definition of beauty without policing other trans women’s choices. I love this too.

  7. Jules says:


  8. swack says:

    While I applaud all these women, why are we not hearing about the transgender men such as Chaz Bono. I get that because Bruce J transgendered into a woman there is more focus on it but really wish they would somehow also include women who have transgendered into men.

    • Who ARE these people? says:

      Thanks, I’ve been wondering the same thing myself. Would love to see the full spectrum of humanity and self-realization represented.

    • jwoolman says:

      I think there’s a much larger pool of people who have gone M>F, that’s all.

      • swack says:

        That could be. I just think it would have been nice to show both sides. Not saying the F > M should out do the M > F but a mention or a couple pictures would have been nice.

    • Mala Malum says:

      +1, this is what I came here to comment. I think this is great on its own, though it seems to me that the discourse covers transwomen more. Is it a case of more coverage over male oriented stories vs females (strictly in the biological sense, not gender) as we see in so many other areas? Am I being too sensitive?

    • Wren says:

      I think part of it is we, as a society, care far less about what trans men look like because we care far less about what men look like in general. Our culture places so much importance on women’s physical appearance and their decorative qualities, while men are judged based on skill, talent, intelligence and occupation. Yes, they are judged on appearance but it’s secondary to their other qualities and accomplishments. For women if she fails at being properly pleasing to the eye, the rest of her accomplishments are scorned.

      One one hand, I’m like “yes, everyone has the right to feel beautiful!” on the other I’m like, “welcome to being a woman, where your value and worth to other people depends on what you look like and everyone feels entitled to an opinion on your appearance”. Men just don’t have to deal with that.

      I kind of hated Caitlyn Jenner’s photo shoot because it was all about her body, just like every other woman ever and it’s like we can never freaking get away from that. It really shines a spotlight on how shitty it is to be a woman, even with all the strides we’ve made in gender equality. I didn’t like Laverne Cox’s nude photo either for the same reason. Why is the epitome of being a woman taking off your clothes and/or being beautiful? Why not the same for men?

      • Lola says:

        @Wren, I agree with you. My problem with many MtoF transexuals is that being a “pretty doll” is all they want, They talk, act and live like superficial women. It bothers me because that’s why they think being a woman is, and to me that’s nothing but pure discrimination in drag.

    • Stef Leppard says:

      There is a trans man on one of the covers featured above: Aaron.

  9. Lara K says:

    The thing is, all of these women are beautiful. I don’t mean pretty in their own way or something like that, I mean really quite lovely looking by any measure. They may not be airbrushed or wear a ton of makeup, but they have poise and style and seem quite happy with themselves, which looks good on any woman.

    • Wren says:

      I enjoyed all of their pictures and really wish we could have more photos of women like this. Fully clothed, not retouched, with intellect, vitality and presence that does not rest on how “sexy” they are. I find beauty in all of them.

  10. oven pride says:

    I love the way they are dressed. Not oversexualized, or showing their bits out.

  11. sally says:

    Yay ! BUT seriously Caitlyn is a beautiful, thin, curvy white girl…what a shock.

    As an Indian woman , I still can’t believe my only doppelganger in Hollywood is Mindy Kaling (there was no one when I was young though). Where’s the Native American Vanity Fair cover? The Chinese mega star? I hope this movement gets more minorities in the spotlight and not the cisnormative that we’re STILL seeing.

  12. Stef Leppard says:

    I love this!!

  13. db says:

    I’m all for it, except I reject the term “cis”. I am entitled to self-determination and find “cis” this or that offensive, frankly.

    • Sarah says:

      How so?

      • db says:

        Because I’m a woman and the “cis” designation seems feels like academic overreach into my life, my being. There’s also something pseudo-scientific about it. I’m probably in a minority here, but I’d be very happy for all these designations to go to the scrapheap of history and let us all go about the business of being fully-endowed people. All these labels smack of eugenics (pseudo-science) to me. Trans people I’ve known and know, are just people to me. I’ve had transwomen and transmen as friends and co-workers and they are women and men to me. I think there’s a great deal more to learn about the nature of “trans” and labels only confuse things more. IMO we are all on a spectrum and if we gene tested every ever lovin’ one of us we would see that our genes sometimes tell a very different story from our physical appearance. /steps down off soapbox

      • Brittney B says:

        “Trans people I’ve known and know, are just people to me.”

        That’s like saying “I don’t see race”. By refusing to acknowledge the distinction between your experience and their experiences, you’re erasing their identity. You may not see it that way — and I totally get what you mean about academic overreach and eugenics — but please understand how insulting it feels to trans people when allies say that their gender identity “doesn’t matter”.

        I mean… many, many men still consider it a compliment to tell a girl, “you’re just like one of the guys”. That’s the whole message behind Lean In, too. “Hey women, don’t worry, you actually can be JUST LIKE us men, as long as you reject or refuse to identify with all your weak female traits!” No, I can’t. Society still caters to the cis-male gaze, and I’m still oppressed because of it. And no, it’s not a compliment. I don’t want to be equated with men like it’s a good thing, like ignoring my gender is somehow empowering or inclusive. It’s not a compliment to tell a trans person that they seem like “any other person”, either.

        Labels DO matter when they’re an inherent part of someone’s identity. We can embrace and acknowledge our differences without letting them divide us.

      • db says:

        @Brittney B I never wrote, and do not think, a trans identity “doesn’t matter” and nothing I posted equates to someone claiming not to see race. If my nephew was born in a female body, but identifies as male and so the family changed his name and does whatever we can to support him as an adolescent transgender, yes, accepting him as a male, it is because he identifies as a male. How anyone can find fault with that is incomprehensible.

        Attempting to make the same argument with race is also problematic here. Using my nephew as an example again, if he were instead black and identified as white, the family could support that and nurture that, but he’d probably run into pushback out in society at large. Because he would not (for this argument) appear white. So celebrating difference in this case wouldn’t get us too far, although working on finding shared values and points of unity might.

        I’m sorry if I’m not clear here, these are gnarly points to put down in writing. I think it’s great to have a place to talk about these things though, without deteriorating into a flame war

      • x23jf says:

        “cis” can mean either “gender identity matches your bio sex” or “comfortable in the gender roles assigned to your bio sex”. the second, more expansive definition, is used by many non binary trans folks

        the problem is that for bio females, the gender roles assigned to our bio sex are oppressive in nature. and to be comfortable is to be complicit in our own oppression. which is a pretty offensive assertion.

        like i don’t identify as trans. i am a bio female. and i am supremely uncomfortable with the assumptions and harm forced upon me bc i am a woman

      • Jack K says:

        To Brittany B:

        I disagree. I’m quite happy someone like DB wants to forget “cis” and “trans”. As a trans male I’m incredibly appreciative of that. I shouldn’t have to distinguish myself from other men to most of the world.

        The labels just help to segregate us.

    • Sandra says:

      What do ‘cisnormative’ and ‘cisgender’ mean? I don’t understand what the ‘cis’ stands for’.

      • swack says:

        Had to look it up because I wanted to ask the same question. So here is a definition of cisgender:
        Cisgender is a word that applies to the vast majority of people, describing a person who is not transgender. If a doctor announces, “It’s a girl!” in the delivery room based on the child’s body and that baby grows up to identify as a woman, that person is cisgender.

      • GiGi says:

        It’s from latin – “cis” meaning “same side” or “on this side” vs. “trans” meaning “other side”

    • Brittney B says:

      I don’t mind it at all… why should we label trans people, but not others? Because we’re in the majority? That’s what cis is, an equivalent term. I know you don’t like the labels, period, but as long as society DOES use a term to describe someone’s gender identity, certain people shouldn’t be immune from that. If “trans” is necessary, so is “cis”.

      When we distinguish between “women” and “trans women” instead of “cis women” and “trans women”, we imply that trans women aren’t quite women. We imply that “women” means “women who were born with vaginas”, while “trans women” means something else. We are ALL women… some of us cis, some of us trans, some of us genderfluid. Using a new term is the least I can do to acknowledge my privilege and others’ lack thereof.

      Let’s put it this way: should white people be called “people”, but black people have to use the racial prefix? In our society, it’s often the case that white people aren’t identified by race, but people of color are. This comes from privilege. This comes from an “us vs. them” mentality, from a mainstream perspective that revolves around being white and noticing when someone isn’t.

      Trans women don’t have the option of ignoring labels. People of color don’t have the option of ignoring race. When cis people ignore the distinction, or white people claim not to see one… they’re not being open-minded. They’re actively ignoring the voices and individuality of people with less privilege than them.

      Believing that labels are unnecessary or confusing or academic… or anything else… is a PRIVILEGE. We’re not all “one society”, no matter how much we want to be. We should celebrate our individuality and acknowledge the effects of our differences, instead of allowing “cis” to remain the assumed norm, and treating everyone else as an exception to the norm.

      The collective narrative should be gender-neutral, race-neutral, etc. That can only happen when we distribute “labels” equally, or not at all. As long as we pick and choose the people who need labels, we’re separating them from the rest of society.

      • db says:

        I have to disagree. We *are* one society, one that is happily more open and accepting of our differences. But also one that upholds our humanity, with what used to be called “natural” rights to our persons, above our individuality. IMO there has to be an articulate, overarching unity, a shared philosophy or value of the unity of life underpinning our celebration of differences.

        Just to be clear – When I embrace someone as a man or woman, I’m acknowledging our shared humanity and EXPANDING the norm, what you term “privilege,” to include that person. There is nothing negative here. IMO the preoccupation of with so-called “privilege” is overkill. Fine for a college course but overbearing in real life.

        Know when the war is won.

    • Jeanne says:

      db – have you seen/read this?

      I found it to be very interesting. I don’t agree with everything the author writes, but the whole “the term vagina is divisive/exclusionary” really pissed me off. The whole thing about abortion rights not being a women’s issue but an issue for people with uteruses – give me a break!

      I feel that if you were born with male parts but identify as female, no problem, and I’ll refer to you using the feminine pronoun. But there is a difference in experience when you grow up as a female vs. growing up as a guy and transitioning to being a woman in your 60s.

      • Celebwatch says:

        This thread immediately made me think of that NYT article. Note the 600 comments on it were heavily critical of the rhetorical ideology pushed by the trans community, including the cis gender designation, but more importantly the “front hole” (ugh) substitution for “vagina.” Ridiculous and offensive. Why isn’t ‘woman’ good enough for all of us born or converted to that gender?

        Cis and trans create a false binary anyway, on top of the already false binary of man and woman. Shouldn’t we honor the spectrum of human experiences of gender?

      • db says:

        @Jeanne – I hadn’t read this, thanks for linking. She makes a number of good points. I think many transwomen *would* experience the full spectrum of a woman’s life if they were able to but seeking in lieu of that to control and define that experience for ALL women is simply wrong. This is a rhetorical style in America inherited from the 1960s rights movements and is not appropriate now. Attacking one’s supporters because they’ve been deemed (arbitrarily) to have used the wrong word and thus deserve some sort of punishment is its own brand of authoritarianism. This also goes to my earlier point about that devil of the 20th century, eugenics.

      • Amy says:

        Thanks for providing that link Jeanne, I have to say she brought up a lot of good points that have been troubling me lately.

        How does one determine they’re the wrong sex? How does one define their current form is wrong and will be properly righted with a bit of surgery or a difference in social perception? What forms that desires and does it come from an informed place?

        I am a woman who likes a lot of the trappings associated with my gender but doesn’t define these accessories as being strictly belonging to my gender. Oddly enough I understand gay or straight men who cross-dress (or event don’t) who enjoy nails, makeup and heels more than transgender women/men.

        They want to experiment with something typically associated with women but they know that has no bearing on their gender or sexual attraction. They are still men and not ‘less’ manly for enjoying these things because these things are not inherently weak or stupid simply because women do it. Society has changed and redefined what is traditionally associated with men and women but those things have no real bearing on ones gender.

        Just a few things that I’ve been pondering lately, clearly everyone’s perception is different by hearing women discussed in all these cliched and stereotyped ways when discussing trans issues has been a bit nauseating.

  14. Dirty Martini says:

    It IS a Happy Monday~! This is wonderful to see. Bravo, ladies, well done.

  15. Jayna says:

    I love what they are doing with the hashtag and Vanity Fair cover. Absolutely amazing. And I also like that photo with Bruce and his friends. That’s using his notoriety in a great way, a very effective photo with the remark, “Learn from those who have walked the path before you.”

  16. Happy21 says:

    I LOVE this!! Like really, really LOVE it! How empowering for those who have struggled with identity issues, etc. Although I know there had been some criticism of Caitlyn and how it was done – she has changed everything by putting this issue (or whatever you want to call it) out there. I love that a whole new generation of people are going to be more comfortable in their own skin because of it all. She’s definitely not the first and she’s definitely not the last but because of her something has shifted.

  17. Zigggy says:

    So interesting! I (ignorantly) seem to imagine all trans women as very into glamour and basically looking like beauty queens. I forget that there are (obviously) trans women out there who are more like me- grungy and not that into clothes and hair.

  18. DeE says:

    So sad. Shaking my head.