Andreja Pejic – formerly Andrej Pejic – revolutionised the fashion industry when she stepped onto both the men's and women's runways, becoming the most successful androgynous model in the business and producing stunning fashion imagery along the way. Who can forget the moment she stepped onto the catwalk in Jean Paul Gaultier's SS11 show in this sheer bridal gown?
Assigned a male gender at birth, Pejic has always been outspoken about gender fluidity in fashion. Now the Bosnian-born, Australia-raised model has come out as a transgender woman, announcing that she underwent sex reassignment surgery earlier this year and describing herself as "more comfortable than ever" in her skin.
"I wasn’t ready to talk about it before in a public way because I was scared that I would not be understood," Pejic explains to Style. "I didn’t know if people would like me. But now I’m taking that step because I’m a little older – I’m 22 – and I think my story can help people. My goal is to give a human face to this struggle, and I feel like I have a responsibility."
Pejic says that she knew that she was trans from the age of 13 and wanted to undergo surgery after discovering the online trans community and reading more about trans medical care and research. But when she was scouted in a McDonald's just before turning 17, she put her surgery on hold to explore her burgeoning career in fashion as it was "an opportunity to see the world and gain some financial stability".
"But I always kept in mind that, ultimately, my biggest dream was to be a girl," the 22-year-old model says. About a year and a half ago, she "re-evaluated things" and decided to pursue surgery again.
"I was proud of my gender non-conforming career," she tells People. "But my biggest dream was to be comfortable in my own body. I have to be true to myself and the career is just going to have to fit around that."
Most importantly, Pejic says that she feels happy and at "100 percent" thanks to her transition. She took to Instagram to post the picture above and thanked her fans for all their support over the years, adding this sweet note to non gender-conforming youth all over the world: "Remember it’s your right to be accepted as what you identify with – you deserve the same respect as any other human being on this planet."
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