Throughout Brazil, one of the most world renowned fashion industries in the world, transgender models are making their way into the spotlight. Women such as 26-year-old Carol Marra, are becoming some of the most sought after models in the growing transgender population. Marra herself has become quite a celebrity, and has already accomplished much in her career. She has been the first transgender woman to walk in Fashion Rio—a national fashion event. She has also been the first to pose nude for Brazilian culture magazine, “Revista Trip.” Marra has even started her own lingerie line, and filmed two mini-series for large Brazilian television networks. Other transgender models such as Lea T. have appeared in Fashion Week alongside supermodels like Gisele Bundchen and Alessandra Ambrosio. However, despite the progress that Marra and other models have made, there are still numerous limitations that she must confront simply because she is transgender.
Though Brazil is known for its liberal attitude and “gender-bending” culture, those who are transgender continue to suffer from discrimination and limited opportunities. Marra states, “They say Brazil is a liberal, progressive country, but it’s not really like that.” The number of transgender models is still minute in comparison to the vast fashion industry present in Brazil. Besides being offered jobs within experimental or “avant-garde” publications, many models find it difficult to crack into the larger consumer world. Many big-name publications and companies will not yet consider transgender models to represent their brands. Marra attests that even her acting career has been severely limited. Marra says, “The majority of actors are gay and can play a heartthrob. Why can’t I play a maid, a secretary, a tree?”
Brazil’s government, though proponents of the rights to homosexual unions, marriage, and adoption, are still holding back on delivering antidiscrimination kits to schools. Hate crimes are also still very prevalent against the LGBTQ community. Grupo Gay da Bahia, a gay-rights group, reports that there were as many as 338 killings throughout the nation in 2012 alone.
Marra has found herself involuntarily becoming a stronghold of support to other transgenders from all over the world. Although many transgender models are political activists, Marra did not originally want to become involved. The New York Times writes that even though even though success may be personally rewarding for transgender women, it may not have many political implications. However, the LGBTQ community continues to fight for further rights within the Brazilian government, hoping to one day achieve total equality. Says Marra, “I never wanted to be an activist of the cause. I thought I was a woman like any other.”
Sources: NY Times