Meet the trans model who is tearing up NYC’s fashion runways
New York model Laith Ashley has found success on the runway this year.
The 26-year-old model has been featured in shows for New York Fashion Week for Adrian Alicea and Gypsy Sport.
He has also been featured in a photoshoot for Barneys by Bruce Weber.
Laith Ashley by Bruce Weber for Barneys
Ashley’s success has come quickly as he only started his transition a few years ago.
After realising at age five that there was a “misalignment” in his body, Ashley said it took until he was 17 to come out.
But at the time, he just came out as gay, telling his parents he had a girlfriend.
Now he has fallen on his feet, and says he is only just coming to terms with people recognising him.
“Being a model now is definitely exciting. I’m always shocked when I’m walking to the gym or going to the store and people recognise me. It makes me feel good, but it can be a bit of shock,” he said.
“New York Fashion Week was fun — it’s funny as I never intended to get into modelling,” he said.
“It just happened… everything happens for a reason and I’m really excited to see where it goes from here.”
Of coming out at 17, he said: “At the time I didn’t know what transgender was, so I just told them I had a girlfriend. But I never felt right with the idea of being a lesbian woman.”
Saying his mum is a Pentecostal Christian, Ashley mainly found acceptance in his father.
“My dad was fine. I told him that if he is proud of me, it takes away the power of people who criticise. Who cares what other people think, if he is proud?”
Six years passed before coming out to starting to medically transition, he explains.
“Once I got over that fear, there was no stopping me. I am the most comfortable I have ever been.”
Having already gained 60,000 Instagram followers, including high-profile fans such as Laverne Cox and Whoopi Goldberg, Ashley says he had a period of being “very overwhelmed”.
“I know many look up to me, because I may fit the image they wish to achieve, which I find incredibly humbling, but I want them to also know that their life journey is their own.’”People should be true to themselves – they don’t have to fit a box.”
Meanwhile in Germany, trans male model Ben Melzer landed the esteemed cover of Men’s Health magazine.
Last year, model Aydian Dowling was the runner up for a competition to win a cover shoot for Men’s Health US – having found a huge amount of public support.