American Apparel recently announced on Instagram that they are looking for “transexy models.” Although the clothing company has historically marketed to pro-LGBT consumers with shirt slogans that proclaim “Legalize Gay” (a reference to marriage equality), some have argued that the retailer has “capitalized” on the LGBT community — and wonder if they are doing the same with this seemingly “trendy” trans moment.
But this isn’t American Apparel’s first attempt to tap the trans community. Last year, Isis King from America’s Next Top Model appeared in the LGBT Pride “Gay O.K.” campaign. (There was some backlash that American Apparel was “misgendering” King and confusing gender identity with sexual orientation by putting a trans model in a tee with “gay” plastered across it. Others argued that King was doing her job as a model and that the ads were monumental.) The clothing company has also previously partnered with LGBT advocacy group GLAAD.
While some still question the timing of American Apparel’s casting call (transgender issues have recently gotten more mainstream attention with shows like Orange is the New Black and Private Chelsea Manning’s public revelation of her trans identity) as well as the retailer’s (mis)use of the word “transgendered,” many are viewing it as a step in the right direction. But there’s certainly more work to do.
“American Apparel seeking trans models for promotional material is beautiful,” performer and trans advocate KOKUMO Kinetic tells ELIXHER. “American Apparel seeking trans people of color for employment in national chains would be revolutionary.”
ELIXHER reached out to American Apparel for a statement regarding the purpose of the casting call and the use of incorrect terminology. They did not respond to our inquiry.
Enjoy the content on our website? Then you’ll love our digital magazine! Subscribe here for more in-depth black LGBTQ women’s coverage and beautiful, exclusively-shot images. Sales help sustain ELIXHER and compensate our team.