Safe to say, the modeling industry has changed. Gone are the days where one standard of beauty represented the whole, and we can’t get enough of diverse beauties like Winnie Harlow, Philomena Kwao, and Adut Akech. So it makes sense that transgender beauties are also having their day. Gone are the days where trans models have to hide out of fear or because no one will book them. One trans model who is carving out a name for herself is Dominican Republic-born, San Diego-bred Dominique Silver who has been in the modeling game long enough to chat about how the industry has evolved and what it’s like to be a trans model today.
What does it mean to be a transgender model today?
It means a lot to me. I have been modeling stealth (as cis gender appearance) without people knowing I was trans for years in the USA and all over Europe, but it’s such a breath of fresh air to finally be able to be myself on set and not be ashamed of being different because it’s more embraced. Being a transgender model today is like being any other model because we are all canvases of creativity for designers to showcase their art.
How did you get started modeling?
Funny story. I had just moved to New York from San Diego along with my long time friend Jamie Clayton and we used to hang out on 8th street and frequent Patricia Fields store to buy hairpieces, makeup…etc. Back home, everyone would tell me I should be a model, but my dream was to be a woman first! Then one day walking down the street I got scouted and my first runway show was for Patricia Fields, on ice, at Rockefeller Center. From there, I signed with an agency and was sent to Italy at 18 and no one knew I was trans. I come from an era where it wasn’t so accepted as now so I would keep my sexually a secret as long as I could. I feel like unless you are going to be intimate with that person it doesn’t matter what genitalia you have.
You work a lot. Do people book you because you’re transgender? Well, I am with the first All Transgender modeling agency called Slay Model Management and through them I get most of my jobs. Also, being a model and moving in the right social circles I’ve acquired jobs, and surprisingly, off of Instagram too! The clients that book through the agency of course know that I’m transgender because they are searching for that specific talent.
At what point did you ‘come out’ in the industry, so to speak?
I’ve been modeling on-and-off for the past 15 years, and I guess my “coming out” was when I signed with the transgender agency and filmed for the TV show. So let’s say the past 2 1/2 years.
Is the industry more accepting of trans models now? TOTALLY. I remember back when my best friend and I went to agencies and they wanted to sign us, but when they found out we were trans they said in order to sign you have to have genital reassignment surgery…we’ve come a LONG way since then, thank God!!! Now androgyny is a fore-runner in this industry and we got that on LOCK, hehehe!
Wow, I have a few all-time favorites like walking for Dsquared in Milan at 19 and doing the Richie Rich show 2 years ago at NYFW with my idol UGLYWORLDWIDE ️and supermodels from NY model management. The back stage was so LIT.
Do you have regular clients and how often do you travel?
I am blessed because the clients I work with are happy with my work ethic and frequent me! And I travel too damn much! This year alone I’ve been coast-to-coast like 4 times, and now I’m in Europe for a couple weeks.
Do you have any favorite models, trans or otherwise? YES. Victoria Secret Supermodel Jasmine Tookes is my IDOL and I really adore Lea T for being a ground-breaker in our community and making the fashion industry accept transgender models more! Obrigada.
Dominique modeling with her niece
Does your family accept you?
Luckily, I have the support of all of my family. Sadly, I know many are not so fortunate.
At what age did you know you were a woman?
I always felt like I was trapped in the wrong body. I guess it was about 5 years old when I was old enough to try to understand what it was.
What’s next for you?
I would like to continue my career as long as possible and be a positive influence and role model to the upcoming transgender youth to show them that anything is possible. In the future, I also want to have a “finishing school” where I can help young transgender get prepared for the world using my knowledge and experience from over the years!