6 Asian models that champion LGBTQ+ representation
By: Michael Cheung
July 14, 2021
Keeping in line with the LGBTQ+ Pride Month that just passed, we extend the momentum by spotlighting the next generation of Asian transgender and non-binary fashion models that use their social voices as a launching pad to raise awareness on equal rights and self-acceptance. An industry that has now openly embraced all forms of beauty has encouraged a crop of Asian models to promote inclusivity within the conservative culture embedded in Asian society by fronting covers and campaigns.
Vogue Thailand spoke about the changing gender landscape with authenticity by starring transgender models and artists exclusively on the cover of its June issue. “The trans women featured within these pages are proof that through inner strength, grace and due diligence in moving mountains, their life and career choices are no longer confined to pageantry or entertainment”, says Kullawit Laosuksri from the publication.
Poyd Treechada (Thailand)
A trailblazer within the Thai transgender community for making a name out of pageantry. She underwent gender-affirming surgery at 17, and nothing has stopped her blooming ever since. With over 2 million Instagram followers under her belt, her commercial success goes beyond modelling with regular appearances in Thai movies and dramas.
Chella Man (United States)
The Youtube star grew a strong social presence by candidly speaking about his experiences as a transgender, deaf, genderqueer, and Jewish person of Chinese descent. His career expanded into acting in 2019 for portraying mute superhero Jericho in the second season of the DC Universe series “Titans”. Besides being loved in television, he spends the remainder of his time on set shooting for Calvin Klein, Dazed and Paper Magazine.
Richie Shazam (United States)
Born in Jamaica, Queens, to conservative Guyanese immigrant parents, she broke out of her shell and truly flourished upon moving to Berlin in 2017 after completing a degree in international relations. Her flamboyant nature and hard-to-categorise style have caught the attention of the fashion elite, citing Prada, Vivienne Westwood, Thom Browne to Instagram among her growing list of clientele. In March this year, she made a career milestone by signing with IMG Models, the agency behind Bella Hadid, Hailey Bieber and a troop of top blue-chip models. “I want all the young queer and brown kids to know we are embraced and that our vibrancy has no limit,” she cheers.
A relatively new face in the Thai modelling industry. Shine was raised in Southern Thailand before moving to Bangkok to pursue her tertiary education. Her most significant break thus far is to have graced both the print and digital cover of Vogue Thailand’s June issue along with other transgender personalities. “It is not easy to be here because there is not enough acceptance in Thailand. But I’m trying to fight for gender equality and hope this will be a driving force for others to follow suit”, she shares.
Mild is another face who has landed herself on the digital cover of Vogue Thailand’s June Issue. Her road into modelling wasn’t easy, as she recalled weighing 98kg and took a whole year to get into shape for the open casting. She shared her gratitude for being covered by Vogue but spoke about feeling like she can do more than just talking. She dreamt about being a lawyer like her father, but she wishes to reach for fame and use the platform to address the deprived human rights within the legal framework in Thailand.
Timmy Ng (Hong Kong)
Timmy is undoubtedly a fresh encounter within Hong Kong’s fashion scene for modelling both menswear and womenswear clothing as a publicised non-binary model. His pale complexion and luscious lips contrast to his fierce, boyish demeanour, which appeals very much to fashion concepts that seek individualism. His ability to hone his masculine and feminine traits will set him far apart from models with one-dimensional beauty.