This Modeling Agency Is Fighting LGBT Hatred in the Best Way

July 24th 2015

Laura Donovan

Apple Model Management, a Thailand-based modeling agency that was the first agency in the world to have a transgender division, is expanding to Los Angeles.

The L.A. director will be Cecilio Asuncion, who made a 2012 documentary about transgender women called "What’s the T?." Asuncion says he was encouraged by the fact that many recent cultural events have increased visibility and acceptance for the trans community. For example, last month Caitlyn Jenner famously graced the cover of Vanity Fair magazine.

In 2014, trans model Lea T was reportedly the first transgender model to become the face of a global cosmetics brand. Also that year, supermodel Andreja Pejic came out as transgender and started a movement to encourage others to do the same. With these things in mind and other current events pointing to more support for the trans community, Asuncion looks forward to welcoming more trans models at the agency.

"In the past years Transgender people have become more and more accepted in many areas of music, entertainment, fashion and commercial advertising due to names such as Aderet, Alexandra Billings, [Laverne] Cox, Isis King, Lea T. and [Andreja] Pejic just to name a few," Apple Model's site reads.

“There have been trans models before; they just didn’t reach their full potential because they lived in fear,” Asuncion said of the agency's expansion to L.A. “But of course modeling is a very time-sensitive career, and they couldn’t change how the community at large saw them at the time.”

Asuncion says that the challenges facing the trans community are particularly difficult.

“I’m a double minority: I’m gay and I’m Asian," he said. "So the opportunities that I have, being a double minority, are still more than the transgender community have had. And now is the time [for a transgender agency] because the lay of the land is changing.”

Asuncion told Mashable that the agency has been well-received in Thailand because of the country's culture.

"It's slowly changing," he said. "It is a Buddhist culture so it's more forgiving of trans people."

Model Geena Rocero recently came out as transgender, writing in a CNN piece, "We are all assigned a gender at birth. Sometimes that assignment doesn't match our inner truth, and there needs to be a new place -- a place for self-identification. I was not born a boy, I was assigned boy at birth. Understanding the difference between the two is crucial to our culture and society moving forward in in the way we treat -- and talk about -- transgender individuals ... In today's globally connected and ever-diversifying world, culture is now more fluid and more flexible than ever -- and so too should be our understanding and perception of gender.​"