For the first time in its 64-year history, Playboy magazine has featured a transgender model as its playmate of the month. Ines Rau, a 26-year-old French fashion model with an enthusiasm for martial arts, described the decision announced Wednesday as “the most beautiful compliment I’ve ever received” and “like getting a giant bouquet of roses.”

“I lived a long time without saying I was transgender,” Rau told Playboy. “I dated a lot and almost forgot. I was scared of never finding a boyfriend and being seen as weird. Then I was like, ‘You know, you should just be who you are.’ 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.”

The announcement comes less than a month after the passing of the magazine’s founder, Hugh Hefner.

Playboy is no stranger to including LGBTQ stories and faces within its pages. Back in 1955 they published a sci-fi story that depicted a future society where homosexuality was the norm and heterosexuality was ostracized. Hefner responded to criticism by stating: “If it was wrong to persecute heterosexuals in a homosexual society, then the reverse was wrong, too.”

Rau is not the first transgender model to appear in Playboy. That accolade belongs to English actor Tula, real name Caroline Cossey, who appeared in the magazine in September 1991.

Rau herself has actually appeared in the magazine before, posing in the May 2014 Playboy A-Z special edition. She appeared in a spread entitled “Evolution” and was photographed fully nude by Ryan McGinley alongside copy that explored gender identities beyond the male-female binary. Rau notes the appearance as “how I celebrated my coming out.”

Although Playboy and Hefner have been praised by some for its pro-LGBT stance, others criticize the magazine for its objectification and dispute the notion that expanding representation in its pages is a victory.

Rau’s appearance is featured in the November/December 2017 issue.


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Photos via Twitter/Playboy