In the first issue following the death of Playboy’s founder Hugh Hefner, the magazine will be making history by featuring their first transgender Playmate of the Month.
Ines Rau, 26, will be gracing the centerfold of the November/December issue, making it the first time that an out trans model has been featured in the magazine’s 64-year history as an official playmate.
The French model’s previous work includes American Vogue, Italian Vogue and a Balmain campaign.
The model told The New York Times on Thursday how much this opportunity means to her and the excitement she felt when she found out the news.
“It was a compliment like I’ve never had,” Rau said. “I’ve had a lot of beautiful comments from gentleman before, but this one made me feel very special, beautiful and feminine. I was speechless.”
The decision was easy, according to Playboy’s chief creative officer Cooper Hefner. The son of Playboy’s late founder said choosing Rau aligns with the philosophy that the magazine was built upon.
“It’s the right thing to do. We’re at a moment where gender roles are evolving,” Mr. Hefner told The Times. “This is really a moment for us to take a step back and say that so much of what the brand stood for in the early years is very much still alive in culture.”
Of course with monumental shifts, like these, there is going to be backlash. Many flocked to social media on Thursday to express their opinions of the magazine’s announcement, with some mentioning that the late Hugh Hefner would not have approved.
However, the comments didn’t phase Rau, who looks at the commentary as a push to continue on her road to success.
“My story is very heavy, and you’re always going to always have people who don’t understand and are being very mean, and seeing that, it makes even more sense to fight for awareness and respect,” she said.
As for the ones questioning if Hugh Hefner would have signed off on the decision if he was still alive, his son believes those people clearly didn’t know who his father was.
“It’s unbelievable the lack of knowledge people have in what he was trying to accomplish,” Mr. Hefner said. “And that was really to have a conversation that was healthy and bring it out of the closet.”
This won’t be the first time Rau has been featured in the magazine. She was also seen, fully nude in their May 2014 issue titled “Playboy A-Z.” Originally, Rau was going to be placed on the cover, but following Hefner’s death the magazine decided to go with a 1965 picture of Hugh Hefner instead.
Playboy has had a first transgender covergirl back in the 1980s, though she was forcibly outed as trans. Caroline Cossey was outed via tabloids in an act that “destroyed [her] career as a successful international model.”
Later, Hefner granted her another playboy spread to “prove that trans people can be sexy and attractive.”