Dusty Rose has spent an entire year trying to become a model.
Thwarted at every turn, she finally got a lucky break in the form of Peche Di, founder of an exclusively transgender modeling agency.
The 19-year-old trans woman born and raised in the conservative southern state of Alabama jumped for joy when she discovered the agency, founded in March 2015, through Instagram.
“I thought, ‘oh my God, this is kind of why I came to New York, to meet people like this!'” says the 6″1 wannabe model, dressed in jeans, pink sneakers and a strappy black vest top.
While some transgender models — like Brazil’s Valentina Sampaio, who graced the cover of French Vogue in February, or Andreja Pejic, who walked here in Fashion Week — have found success, most continue to face a wall of prejudice.
It’s a problem even in liberal New York, where trans people are widely accepted, says Dusty, who started her transition when she was 15 and still in high school.
“The first day me and my mom came up here, someone screamed ‘faggot’ at me and my mom was like ‘my gosh this is New York, this is not supposed to happen here.’ And I just said, ‘oh it happens everywhere.'”
– ‘Don’t want this one touching me’ –
Dusty works in a New York hair salon.
“There are clients sometimes saying, ‘I don’t want this one doing my hair,’ ‘I don’t want this one touching me’: Not even ‘her’ or ‘him,’ just ‘this one’ — that kind of bothers me,” she says.
The first day me and my mom came up here, someone screamed ‘faggot’ at me and my mom was like ‘my gosh this is New York, this is not supposed to happen here.’ And I just said, ‘oh it happens everywhere.’
Dusty says she once had to ask a …read more