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Playboy Features First Ever Transgender Playmate (Photos)

Playboy Features First Ever Transgender Playmate (Photos) Promo Image

The latest issue of Playboy magazine features a transgender "playmate" as its centerfold pictorial.

The 26-year-old French model, Ines Rau, appears fully nude in the November/December 2017 issue, reports The Independent.

It is also the first issue to appear following the death of the magazine's iconic founder, Hugh Hefner.

In May 2014, Rau also appeared in a special issue of Playboy which championed a more progressive understanding of gender as non-binary. But the current issue is her first full pictorial.

She is a successful fashion model, fronting campaigns for the French fashion house Balmain and appearing in fashion week shows across the globe.

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In the interview accompanying her pictorial, Rau said she delayed identifying as transgender because she was afraid of never finding a partner or being perceived as "weird."

"Then I was like, you know, you should just be who you are," she said. "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."

“When I was doing this shoot, I was thinking of all those hard days in my childhood,” she added, as quoted by Billboard. “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.”

Her appearance in the magazine generated some negative reviews online.

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"When I open a Playboy, I expect to see women, not some guy who identifies as a woman, or some former male who has had the surgery to become female," wrote one commenter on the magazine's Facebook page.

"I just don't want my kids confused," added another. "I know it's by choice, but it's also a parent's responsibility to guide and teach their kids at an early age. But if they claim they were born like that... then, I don't buy it!! Males have male parts and females have female parts! Sorry!"

A sarcastic reader replied: "I'd like to congratulate Playboy on officially cowering to political correctness. I won't resubscribe for this."

Another said that the choice to use Rau did not represent the interests of the readership in general. "At the risk of being labeled bigots, racists, reactionaries and sundry other things currently in vogue, we entreat you to return to your time-tested format of Playmate selection, which is more in line with the thinking of the vast majority of your readers."

The magazine also received scathing comments in March 1965, when it featured Jennifer Jackson, a black woman, as the Playboy Playmate of the Month, observes The New York Times.

In response to the negative comments about Rau, Playboy's social media accounts posted snippets of archival letters about Jackson.

For example, one reader in 1965 wrote: "I do not need the foldout in the March issue. There are too many Negroes at this university now."

But there were also those in 1965 who embraced the selection of Jackson. "In your leadership of the avant-garde in modern America, you have taken another giant step forward," one letter read.

Rau is not the first transgender model to appear in the magazine.

Caroline "Tula" Cossey posed for Playboy in 1981, but did not reveal until the following year that she was born a man.

Cossey, who also appeared in the James Bond film "For Your Eyes Only," posed a second time for Playboy in 1991.

In addition to Rau's historic shoot, the November/December 2017 issue also features a special tribute to Hefner's life; a black and white portrait photograph of him is the magazine's cover image.

Sources: The Independent, The New York Times, Billboard / Featured Image: Alexander Hauk/Wikimedia Commons / Embedded Images: Derek Kettela/Playboy via Billboard

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