On Nov 4, 2013, a petition circulated the Tumblr-sphere requesting that Victoria’s Secret—the largest lingerie franchise in the United States—appoint model and burlesque performer Carmen Carrera as the newest Angel. If appointed, Carmen Carrera will be the first transgender model to walk the runway in the history of Victoria Secret’s franchise.
Born Christopher Roman, she is best known for her appearance on the Logo television series RuPaul’s Drag Race. On May 1, 2012, during the third season of the show, ABC News reported that Carmen identified as a transgender woman. Following her public gender transformation, Carrera signed with Elite Model Management and walked the runway for designer Marco Marco at last month’s LA Fashion Week. She has also been featured in W Magazine twice.
The petition— formulated on Change.org by Marco Regalado— states that by making Carmen the very first transgender supermodel, it will not only “help end femmephobia within the LGBTIQQA community, but it will also show the entire trans community that [Victoria’s Secret] embrace[s] them as patrons.” The petition currently has over 29,000 signatures.
“Carmen Carrera has been an amazing icon and role model to the transgender community,” comments a supporter. “It would be amazing if she could further herself and become an even larger role model to youth and adults.”
Although the majority of the modeling community has embraced Carrera, controversy surrounds her transition. On July 11, 2012, Carrera appeared in an episode of the TLC series, Cake Boss. According to Carrera, she agreed to the job to “promote equality” and show that “transgender women are just as beautiful as biological woman and should be respected for that.”
In actuality, Carmen was unknowingly participating in a prank, in which she was exploited for her identity. Carrera was set up on a date with cast member Anthony Bellifemine, and at the end of show, host Buddy Valastro reveals to Anthony, “that’s a man, baby!”
“Calling me a ‘MAN’ promotes ignorance and makes it okay to call transgender women, men. PEOPLE GET BULLIED, BEAT UP, AND KILLED FOR BEING TRANS BECAUSE OF THIS IGNORANCE! … I made it VERY clear to the producers on how to use the correct wording before agreeing to filming this but instead they chose to poke fun and be disrespectful,” Carrera commented after the incident.
Many believe that Carerra’s acceptance into the super modeling industry serves as an inspiration for those fearful to express their true selves. “The time has come for people to become educated on the difference between sex and gender,” says one signee of the petition. “Gender is an endless spectrum of endless possibilities. [Carrera] has inspired me and so many others. It’s time for her to inspire the world.”