Rihanna won’t be doing trans-only castings for Fenty Beauty any time soon

Rihanna's 3rd Annual Diamond Ball

Transgender rights and issues have come to the forefront very quickly. It actually surprised to me to look back and see how quickly the conversation shifted, seemingly overnight. My cynical side believes that anti-trans bigotry has been on the rise because many of those people realize that attacking gay people is “out of style” now. In any case, there’s been a rise in anti-trans hate and a rise in trans-issue awareness. Many makeup companies and beauty brands have moved with the times too, hiring prominent transgender women to front campaigns. Rihanna was recently asked if she would ever hire a transgender woman to represent Fenty Beauty, and her response was fascinating:

She says, in part:

“I’ve had the pleasure of working with many gifted trans women throughout the years, but I don’t go around doing trans castings!… I respect all women, and whether they’re trans or not is none of my business! It’s personal and some trans women are more comfortable being open about it than others so I have to respect that as a woman myself! Too often do I see companies doing this to trans and black women alike! There’s always [just] that one spot in the campaign for the token ‘we look mad diverse’ girl/guy! It’s sad!”

I completely understand the argument of “doing a trans casting is tokenism” or “hiring one trans woman is a convenient marketing tool” and I understand the argument of “why ask women if they’re trans, it’s none of my business.” If her castings are open to everyone, then it shouldn’t be a problem. That being said, sometimes it really is about enforcing diverse hires. People are always critical of quota hires and this kind of “forced diversity,” but… that sh-t is important. Without explicitly saying “we need to hire a trans woman/black woman/brown woman,” many companies would just default to hiring cisgendered blonde girls and calling it a day. That’s not on Rihanna, and that’s not what she’s doing at all, I’m just saying that I could easily see another beauty company making a similar “our castings are open to all women, we don’t ask questions” argument and then just hiring a series of Blake Livelys.

Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Launch

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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27 Responses to “Rihanna won’t be doing trans-only castings for Fenty Beauty any time soon”

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  1. African Sun says:

    I don’t see any harm in her comments and I don’t think she meant to be hurtful. My God she is beautiful!!

    • Peeking in says:

      I get the feeling that one of her models is transgender, and doesn’t want to talk about it publicly, which is why Rihanna said “some are more comfortable being open about it”.

      I also hate when fans sends a DM to a celeb, gets a response, then posts it publicly. It’s ridiculous. I know the fan meant no harm, but why speak privately if you’re just going to make it public?

      • African Sun says:

        Right exactly it always seems like the ”fans” are hoping for attention

      • Kizzy says:

        I think the fan was just excited that she responded back. At least he did ask for her permission to post which some people don’t.

  2. BaronSamedi says:

    Yes cosmetics companies in GENERAL need to be more diverse and visbility for trans people is important right now.

    Interesting that we’re hanging all the responsibility on the Make-up line of a black woman who has made one of the most diverse make-up lines in decades. I also firmly believe that especially Rihanna would be the one most likely to actually have a trans woman be a model without making it a big deal.

    So, I love what she’s saying and feel like it’s really not on her to ‘be the change’ – she ALREADY is the change by being a black woman in the business.

    • Giggs says:

      Yup, and she HASN’T hired a bunch of Blake livelys so why is this all on her? Oh wait

    • African Sun says:

      I have no idea why the pressure is on her as a black woman but this tends to be happen in business, the minorities are put to the coals harder.

    • Umyeah says:

      I dont think anyone was hanging the responsibility on Fenty, i think one fan just asked the question

  3. Nicole says:

    If it were other brands that are not known for having a campaign full of different shapes, sizes and ethnicities then I would have a different take on this. But as it is Rihanna hires women of ALL backgrounds. So for her token casting is not going to increase the diversity she already regularly uses.

  4. blogdis says:

    I actually like her response

    • HK9 says:

      So do I. I understand where she’s coming from.

    • HIDIPUS says:

      me too Riri is on the right ,the fact of hiring transgender people will be so NONINCLUSIVE over time . and i think she doing right theres a big difference between promoting their HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN and using them as a MARKETING TOOL !

  5. Lizzie says:

    i don’t think rhianna needs to be lectured about this. a black woman deliberately makes inclusive beauty line in ten million skin tones with a huge viral online marketing campaign driven by the diverse customers in all shapes, sizes and colors using her products in their daily lives. but – that’s not good enough – lets roast her for not specifically hiring a trans model. stop! stop making the people who are not the problem responsible for the solution. lecture estee lauder!!

    • jwoolman says:

      We don’t really know that she hasn’t hired a trans model. They don’t all have TRANS stamped on their forehead. She made it pretty clear that she does not intend to make any of that a marketing tool. The only way we would find out is if the model herself decided to be open about it.

  6. slowsnow says:

    Considering the work Rihanna has done for so many people including albinos, I’d give her a break honestly. She is divinely beautiful but she ain’t god.

  7. Veronica says:

    I think – and would hope – that her statement means she welcomes trans individuals to apply for modeling without singling them out as trans. That they are simply women and should feel welcome to just being women when they model for her. If that’s her intent, I don’t have a problem with it.

  8. Jussie says:

    It’s a great response.

    It bugs me when people suggest putting a trans person, or a POC, or a person with a disability in an ad or film or whatever. Not an actual trans, POC or disabled individual they think would be good, but just any person who ticks that particular box. That does make it seem like tokenism. If you actually care, if you’re actually supporting these groups, there’ll be plenty of names you can come up with. Use them, just like you would if you were dreamcasting a white actor or model.

    Eg. ‘There should be a black character in this’ vs. ‘Gugu Mbatha-Raw would be great as this character’.

  9. Hikaru says:

    Why is it always on us women to solve issues men themselves created? We are not the keepers of male sex, whether they have a gender identity disorder or not.

    • Alex says:

      Indeed Hikaru.

    • Laura says:

      Yep. Best response I’ve read on this.

      • PaulY says:

        “Why is it always on us women to solve issues men themselves created?”


        “We are not the keepers of male sex, whether they have a gender identity disorder or not.”

        Gender identity DISORDER? Wow. Okay.

        Edit: Sorry, Laura. This was meant in response to Hikaru’s statement, but I’m also sad to see your wholehearted agreement.

  10. serena says:

    I understand Rihanna’s point and I agree, also this makes me love and respect her even more than I already did.

  11. teacakes says:

    A++ response, and she’s absolutely right – if all women are welcome to her casting calls then why have trans-only ones? And Fenty Beauty does have diverse casting as it is, which, kudos to her for that.

  12. raincoaster says:

    I like that kicker: Hiring them means paying them! Very often the actual talent is treated as just material.