Trans Model-Activist Laith Ashley Kills It On The Cover Of “Attitude” Magazine

The 26-year-old is the first trans man to grace the UK magazine's cover.

We first met Laith Ashley last fall, when we profiled him in our Know Your Instagrammer series.

And while there’s no denying this 26-year-old trans man is a looker, his best qualities run more than skin deep: He currently works as an insurance navigator at New York’s Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, which focuses on the LGBT community.

With @egoshooter and @elliottsailors doing the only pose that matters. #zoolander #bluesteel

A post shared by Laith Ashley [De La Cruz] (@laith_ashley) on

Ashley has been blowing up as a model, too—appearing in Bruce Weber’s “Brothers, Sisters, Sons & Daughters” campaign for Barney’s and now gracing the cover of Attitude magazine’s June issue.

That’s not to say it’s been easy for him.

“I would self-destruct, I would disappear because I didn’t want to be here”, he tells the magazine of his struggle with self-acceptance. “For a long time I prayed to God to let me die. I’d think ’
I hate life, hate being trans, hate the world.’ I was very negative.”

And with therapy and support from his family and community, he says “I love who I see in the mirror now.”

Of course, modeling is still a tough racket.

Laith ashley

“The biggest challenge with modeling would be my height (5’10”). Aside from that, my tendency to become overwhelmed when overstimulated,” Ashley told NewNowNext last year.

“My first reaction is to run away. I am learning to be more confident in myself, so that when I am presented with a difficult tasks I can handle them with grace.”

We’d say you’re doing a pretty awesome job so far, Laith—congrats!

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.