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Playboy will make history with its November/December 2017 issue: the issue will feature the magazine’s first transgender playmate, 26-year-old French model Ines Rau. Although Rau has appeared in the magazine before back in 2014, she will get the full playmate treatment this time, with a pictorial and centerfold all to herself. The issue will also feature a special tribute to Hugh Hefner, who died a few weeks ago.
“Being a woman is just being a woman,” Rau told Playboy in an interview accompanying her photoshoot. She also admitted that she did not identify as transgender for quite some time, but now that she does, she feels at peace. “It’s a salvation to speak the truth about yourself, whether it’s your gender, sexuality, whatever,” Rau continued. “The people who reject you aren’t worth it. It’s not about being loved by others; it’s about loving yourself.”
Although she took a long time to come to terms with her true identity, she also said that she has always known that a version of the fame and success she enjoys now was in the cards for her. “I always knew from within, when I was a little kid in my room in the ghetto, that a beautiful destiny was waiting for me,” Rau added. “I don’t know how to explain it. A little voice was telling me, ‘You’ll see. Patience.’”
“When I was doing this shoot, I was thinking of all those hard days in my childhood,” Rau continued. “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.”
And it appears as though Rau’s self-confidence and self-love is getting her to places beyond the pages of Playboy magazine: according to Dazed, she has also signed a book deal and is set to appear in a movie soon. Rau has walked in many designer fashion shows, including Balmain, and appeared in Vogue Italia.
Rau may be the first transgender Playboy playmate, but the magazine featured a transgender model for the first time quite a while ago. In 1981, Caroline “Tula” Cossey posed for Playboy. She also had a role in the James Bond movie For Your Eyes Only in the same year, but both of these appearances happened before Cossey came out publicly as transgender. She was outed without her consent in 1982, but nevertheless posed for and appeared in Playboy again almost a decade later in 1991.