Andrej Pejic, the notorious androgynous male model, who has walked in show such as Jean Paul Gaultier and has been featured in magazines like Vogue, is no more. Andrej Pejic is now Andreja Pejic as it was revealed that earlier this year the model underwent sex reassignment surgery. Speaking for the first time ever, Pejic opened up to Style.com to discuss her surgery and what it means to be a transgender model in the industry.

andrej pejic transgender model

Pejic says she knew from a very young age that she was female, but due to fear of criticism, she felt more comfortable identifying with androgyny than transgender. “Especially to my peers [who] couldn’t understand things like ‘trans’ and gender identity. And then obviously the modeling thing came up, and I became this androgynous male model, and that was a big part of my growing up and my self-discovery. But I always kept in mind that, ultimately, my biggest dream was to be a girl,” she said. “I wasn’t ready to talk about it before in a public way because I was scared that I would not be understood. I didn’t know if people would like me. But now I’m taking that step because I’m a little older—I’m 22—and I think my story can help people. My goal is to give a human face to this struggle, and I feel like I have a responsibility.”

Now, Pejic says that fashion gurus like Carine Roitfeld and Juergen Teller have been supportive through the transition, but it hasn’t always been smooth sailing, and there’s quite a lot more work to be done. “…my biggest challenge was to not always be pigeonholed, and also to make [androgyny] commercially successful, because when I started, it was such a new thing,” she said. “Still, there are a lot of roadblocks, particularly when working with cosmetic brands or perfumes or those sort of commercial, corporate things. It’s been more difficult to break into that world than ‘fashion’ because it hasn’t been done before.”

Even though there will be a few more bumps ahead in the road for Pejic, she really couldn’t be happier with her life right now. “I’m open to love, so I’m taking some time off for myself now. I think that’s necessary. We’ll see. But you know, I feel more comfortable than ever, more confident than ever, and I’m ready to face the world.”

You go, girl.

Head over to Style.com to read the full interview with Andreja Pejic.

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