Andrej Pejic, a rising star in fashion who has appeared on the cover of Elle and French Vogue and has modeled both men and women’s clothing, announced on Thursday that she is a transgender woman. Going forward, she will use the name Andreja and only be modeling women’s clothing.
“To all trans youth out there, I would like to say respect yourself and be proud of who you are,” she told GLAAD. “All human beings deserve equal treatment no matter their gender identity or sexuality. To be perceived as what you say you are is a basic human right.”
Pejic, who underwent gender-confirmation surgery earlier this year, is supported by her family in Australia and friends around the world. “As a transgender woman I hope to show that after transition—a life-saving process—one can be happy and successful in their new chapter without having to alienate their past,” she told fans on Facebook.
Pejic’s family emigrated to Australia from wartorn Bosnia when she was a child. “One of my earliest memories was spinning around in my mom’s skirt, trying to be a ballerina,” Pejic, 23, told ET. “It was at the age of 13 when I discovered what ’trans’ means and what gender identity means, and what sexuality means. And I knew that this was something I always had to do.”
She began modeling in 2007 and has walked the runway for Jean-Paul Gaultier, Marc Jacobs and other top designers. She’s been named to the Out 100, received a NewNowNext award for style and, in 2013, and appeared in David Bowie’s music video for “The Stars are Out Tonight,” alongside Tilda Swinton.
Next up, Pejic is slated to appear in Sofia Coppola’s upcoming adaptation of The Little Mermaid.
She is one of several trans and gender-nonconforming models now staking their claim in the fashion world, including Ines Rau, Valentijn De Hingh, Isis King and Casey Legler, who became the first woman to sign a contract with Ford Models exclusively to model men’s clothing.
In January, a Barney’s New York ad campaign featured all trans and gender-nonconforming models.