26-year-old Rau, was apparently booked to appear in last month’s issue, however following the sudden death of founder Hugh Hefner, her appearance was postponed. An archival image of Hefner will feature on the November/December issue, and now Rau’s time has arrived as the first openly transgender model to feature in Playboy as a Playmate. And she couldn’t be happier:
"Every woman's beauty deserves to be celebrated," Rau told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“No one deserves to be a woman more than those [trans women] who routinely suffer abuse and are treated like they're less than nothing."
In honour of Hugh M. Hefner, our November/December issue celebrates the life of an American icon. The new issue is a prelude to a forthcoming 100+ page special tribute dedicated to the man who changed the world with his visionary magazine and company. 📷: Larry Gordon, 1965
So just who is Ines Rau?
She’s 26, a transgender model of North African decent, from France and the new playmate of Playboy. She’s living in New York and this isn’t the first time she’s been shot for the magazine. Back in 2014, she featured in the piece Evolution, which focused on "humanity's halting shift toward acceptance of gender identities beyond the male-female binary." Which no doubt allowed her profile and exposure in the modelling world to rise.
And that shoot led to big decisions for her. "It's how I celebrated my coming out, actually," Rau told Playboy. "I took that chance, and then I signed with an agency."
The first transgender woman to pose for Playboy was Tula in September 1991.
Rau will feature on the centrefold spread discussing her personal journey to date.
She comments: “I lived a long time without saying I was transgender. 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."
With the reigns of Playboy now in the hands of Hugh Hefner’s son, Cooper, also the same age as Rau, it is believed that the future of the magazine will further push the boundaries of embracing and accepting perception and reactions on sex. Cooper explained that Rau “very much speaks to the brand’s philosophy, it’s the right thing to do. We’re at a moment where gender roles are evolving".
A spokesman for UK LGBT charity Stonewall added: "Trans women are women. That is not up for debate, by media commentators or anyone else. We applaud Ines for continuing to speak out on the rights of trans people everywhere."