Model Andrej Pejic changes gender

JENNA CLARKE
Last updated 10:54 27/07/2014
Andrej Pejic
Getty Images
FEELING FREE: "I went into the library and typed 'sex change' into Google and my life changed," Andrej Pejic says.

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Androgynous Australian model Andrej Pejic has undergone sex reassignment surgery and now identifies as a woman.

The model, who was born male in Bosnia and rose to fame in 2010 after being photographed in womenswear by Carine Roitfeld for Vogue Paris, has spoken out about her journey to become a woman - which started at age 13.  

"I went into the library and typed 'sex change' into Google and my life changed," she told People magazine.

Pejic, who has now legally changed her name to Andreja, said her family were supportive of her plans to transition even when she began taking puberty blockers while attending high school in the Melbourne suburb of Broadmeadows.

The 22-year-old's plans for surgery were derailed when she was discovered at 17 and began booking international jobs for both women's and menswear. While she said a career highlight was being cast as a bride to close Jean-Paul Gaultier's 2011 spring haute couture show, being comfortable in her own skin has always been her main priority.

"I think from my teenage years, when I decided I needed to express my femininity, I was happy with the way I looked. But SRS [sex reassignment surgery] is kind of the last part - it's sort of the icing on the cake," she told Style.com.

"It makes me feel freer than ever. Now I can stand naked in front of a mirror and really enjoy my reflection. And those personal moments are important."

The model, who has been cast to star in Sofia Coppola's remake of The Little Mermaid, is now listed as a female model with all of her agencies around the world. Her agents at Chadwick were among the first to list her solely in the women's division.

"She is such a wonderful human being and has always approached the industry with such intelligence and humility. Now it's time for another very exciting chapter for her and her career she's just a different sex now," Chadwick's managing director, Martin Walsh, told Fairfax Media.

"I'm sure she will be embraced even more so around the world, there are all sorts of opportunities that are available to her, perhaps even a beauty campaign."

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A global beauty campaign - considered to be a lucrative holy grail for models - is now something Pejic hopes to achieve.

"It would be cray cray," she said.

However, while the 1.85 metre blonde has captured the hearts and minds of some of fashion's most powerful players including Marc Jacobs, she said the beauty and cosmetics industry lacks vision.

"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. They don't have any market research, and people in that world aren't risk-takers," she said.

"You have to prove to them over and over that you are liked by people, you have a skill, and you can sell a product."

Pejic joins the list of a growing number of notable transgender women, including Orange Is The New Black star Laverne Cox and Lieutenant-Colonel Catherine McGregor, senior adviser to the Chief of Army, who have spoken publicly about transgender issues.

"Congrats on publicly claiming your truth as a trans woman. You're now part of a resilient, beautiful & mighty sisterhood," Cox tweeted.

It took the Australian model three-months to recover from the surgery and she now plans to continue supporting the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community through activism and advocacy work.

"My goal is to give a human face to this struggle, and I feel like I have a responsibility," she said.

"What's in between anyone's legs is not who they are."

- Sydney Morning Herald

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