Playboy is making history with its November/December 2017 issue. This will be the first time the magazine will have a man on its cover without the presence of a woman. Secondly, the upcoming month will have the first ever transgender model.
In the 64-year history of the magazine, Cooper Hefner, a top executive at the magazine, said on Thursday was in keeping with its founding mission of embracing changing attitudes about sex.
Selecting Ms. Rau “very much speaks to the brand’s philosophy,” said Mr. Hefner, 26, Playboy’s chief creative officer. “It’s the right thing to do. We’re at a moment where gender roles are evolving.”
Ms. Rau has appeared in American Vogue, Italian Vogue, and a Balmain campaign, among others.
This first openly transgender Playmate with a pictorial and centerfold is French high-fashion model Ines Rau!
“When I was doing this shoot, I was thinking of all those hard days in my childhood,” she said in the accompanying interview. “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.”
Mr. Hefner said he selected Ms. Rau to be a Playmate two months ago because she’s “lovely” and has “a remarkable personality,” but also to resolidify the magazine’s voice. “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.”
There’s been pushback on social media about placing a transgender model as a centerfold.
“I’ve seen a lot of hateful comments,” Ms. Rau said. “I would have never thought about people being so transphobic. I knew we still had a lot of work to do to get to a point where people see trans women as women, but I would have never thought of that.”
“My story is very heavy, and you’re 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.
“I lived a long time without saying I was transgender,” the self-described hippie, a tomboy and a party girl explained. “I dated a lot and almost forgot. I was scared of never finding a boyfriend and being seen as weird. Then I was like, You know, you should just be who you are. It’s a salvation to speak the truth about yourself, whether it’s your gender, sexuality, whatever. The people who reject you aren’t worth it. It’s not about being loved by others; it’s about loving yourself.”
Mr. Hefner says he has not questioned his decision one bit to place a transgender model on the pages of Playboy.
“I didn’t make that decision based off of whether or not individuals who were paying for products or are fans of the brand are going to be satisfied with it,” he said. “I made the decision because it was the right decision to make, regardless of the comments that come out.”
Social media commentators insisted that Hugh Hefner would never have allowed a transgender woman to appear in his magazine. But the fact that Ms. Rau was selected months before Hugh’s death and that she’s already been seen nude previously dispels that theory.
The May 2014 issue came with a special section called Playboy A-Z that featured Ms. Rau fully nude for a spread titled Evolution.