Andreja Pejić has brought trans issues to the mainstream media

Andreja Pejić was featured on the cover of ES Magazine last week. Why was this so significant? Guest writer Hadley discusses.

An eye-catching cover model on the front of ES Magazine, the Evening Standard’s companion on a Thursday and Friday evening, is nothing new. There have been countless cover models, providing the stressed-out and over-worked Londoner with some light reading on their tube journey home, and there will doubtless be many more to come. Yet last week, Andreja Pejić, brought something new to the party. The 24 year-old Australian model was featured in the magazine, alongside the likes of Michael Kors, beating him to the top prize of cover girl. And for those of you wondering why Pejić’s cover has attracted such hype, as well as being an attractive young model, she also happens to be trans.

Don’t judge a book by its cover – a phrase that is used repeatedly. However, I’d argue in this instance, the idiom is perfect. If somebody had conducted a survey amongst the swarm of commuters running up the stairs of Waterloo station, armed with a copy of ES Magazine under their arm, and asked them if they knew Andreja Pejić is trans, I doubt many of them would know. And why would they?

As well as being an attractive young model, she also happens to be trans.

This cover is simple, yet powerful. It breaks down some common misconceptions that people hold about trans people and allows people to reflect on these views. The commuters who picked up their copy of ES Magazine didn’t see a trans woman looking at them from the newsstand; they saw Andreja Pejić. Inside, Pejić spoke candidly about her journey through transitioning and established a sense of normality around issues that some people still find difficult to talk about. She spoke of the challenges she faced, as well as the successes achieved during her blossoming career.

Andreja Pejić isn’t the first trans model to catch the public’s eye. Just earlier this year we saw Benjamin Melzer cover Germany’s Men’s Health, being the first trans fitness model to do so. Melzer, who dreams of becoming a Calvin Klein model, used the attention surrounding his cover to his advantage. He was able to discuss issues affecting trans people; especially young trans people and the obstacles and discrimination they still face in 2016. Melzer also highlighted the fact that he wanted this cover to show people that trans men are ‘just normal guys’.

The commuters who picked up their copy of ES Magazine didn’t see a trans woman looking at them from the newsstand; they saw Andreja Pejić.

Both Andreja Pejić and Benjamin Melzer have opened up the discussion around trans issues and have brought these discussions to a mainstream audience. Nobody who picked up their copy of ES Magazine knew that they were going to be reading about growing up trans on their way home, yet they did, and they received their education from a magazine they’ve been reading for years. I’d encourage other publications to take advantage of their loyal readers, as a means of educating them about issues we don’t often hear about in mainstream media. Only then can we start to see a more accepting and open-minded readership and society.

Follow Hadley on Twitter (@wordsbyhadley)