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French Model Breaks Mold as Playboy's First Transgender Centerfold

By Paige Brettingen ; Updated February 26, 2018

Playboy is making history in the centerfold, revealing that its newest Playmate is transgender model Ines Rau.

The 26-year-old French high-fashion model is the first openly transgender model to be included in the magazine’s 64-year history. Sporting a white bra, thong and sneakers for the shoot, Rau expressed her gratitude for the honor of being named the newest Playmate and how it prompted her to reflect on her past.

“When I was doing this shoot, I was thinking of all those hard days in my childhood,” she says in the Playboy interview. “And now everything happening gives me so much joy and happiness. I thought, ‘Am I really going to be a Playmate — me?’ It’s the most beautiful compliment I’ve ever received. It’s like getting a giant bouquet of roses.”

Rau credits modeling as being the catalyst that prompted her to openly acknowledge and celebrate her transgender identity. Her other modeling credits include walking couture runways and an appearance in Vogue Italia_._ She also appeared nude in Playboy’s May 2014 “A-Z” issue in a spread called “Evolution,” showing a shift in gender acceptance that surpasses simply male or female classifications.

Though she’s had quite a bit of success in her young career, the journey of self-acceptance that got her to this milestone wasn’t easy.

“I lived a long time without saying I was transgender,” she says in the upcoming Playboy issue. “I dated a lot and almost forgot. I was scared of never finding a boyfriend and being seen as weird. Then I was like, You know, you should just be who you are. It’s a salvation to speak the truth about yourself, whether it’s your gender, sexuality, whatever. The people who reject you aren’t worth it. It’s not about being loved by others; it’s about loving yourself.”

Since publishing its first issue in 1953 with Marilyn Monroe on the cover, Playboy hasn’t been a stranger to embracing shifting standards of beauty. The magazine included its first African-American playmate, Jennifer Jackson, in 1965, and Darine Stern became the first African-American model to be featured solo on the cover in 1971. It has also featured older models like Patricia Paay at the age of 60, Farah Fawcett at 50 and Mamie Van Doren at 75.

The magazine also refrained from publishing nude photos from 2015 to 2016. When it decided to reintroduce nudity, Hefner issued a statement that “Playboy will always be a lifestyle brand focused on men’s interests, but as gender roles continue to evolve in society, so will we.”

The November/December 2017 issue of Playboy hits newsstands on October 31. The cover of the issue is a tribute to the late Hugh Hefner — the first cover to feature a lone man.

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