Leading the runway revolution: Meet the male and female models signed to New York's first transgender fashion agency


  • Transgender model Peche Di, 26, founded the Trans Models in May
  • Peche, who was born in Bangkok, moved toNew York in 2010
  • She now has 19 models - 10 men and nine women - on her books
Pêche Di for Teen Vogue

Pêche Di for Teen Vogue

pêche di

Transgender models are becoming more and more accepted on the catwalks and glossy magazine pages of the fashion world - and now, they have their own New York agency.

When transgender model Peche Di moved to New York City from Thailand in 2010 and began making waves on the fashion scene, she went about trying to get signed by a modelling agency - to no avail. But now, the 26-year-old is running her own agency, just for people like her.

'I went to Ford Models and Women Management and I didn’t really get accepted that well,' Peche told Refinery29. 'They wouldn’t want to represent me...[and] they didn’t really tell me why, they just disappeared. I didn’t get a call back.' 

Paving the way: Founded in May by Peche Di (center), 26, Trans Models is the first modelling agency in New York to cater exclusively to transgender talent

Making the move: Peche Di moved to New York City from Thailand in 2010 and found trouble finding an agent to represent her, despite having worked on several high-profile projects

Despite having worked with big names like Teen Vogue and Barney's and having been snapped by the likes of Bruce Weber, Peche still couldn't get signed with an agent. But, it was that lack of opportunity that finally motivated her to solve the problem herself.

In December 2014, Peche, who was born Pitchadapha Phasi in Bangkok, was approached by the New York Times to be interviewed as part of a story about transgender models and, as English was not her first language, she enlisted the help of her friend Roi to prepare.

As the two were conversing, Peche confessed her dream of one day running an agency specifically for representing trans models, a dream that Roi insisted she run with immediately.

With that support behind her, the model bought the domain name for TransModels.com and shortly after, in May this year, made the business official by filing the papers at the county clerk's office downtown. The agency is only the third of its kind in the country.

Just months later, Peche's venture has signed 19 models - 10 men and nine women - as well as several stylists and make-up artists.

One of those models is Laith Ashley De La Cruz, 26, a trans man with over 36,000 Instagram followers and a resume that includes the likes of i-D magazine and Barneys’ Brothers, Sisters, Sons & Daughters campaign. He also spends some of his time working at New York’s Callen-Lorde Community Health Center.

Looking ahead: Peche (pictured) is currently planning an an all-trans fashion show for New York Fashion Week in February 2016

Insta-stud: One of Trans Models' big names is Laith Ashley De La Cruz, 26, a trans man with 36,000 Instagram followers and experience modelling for Barney's and i-D magazine

Fighting: Vikki Le, 26, a model from Vietnam who signed with Trans Models in July claims that opportunities for transgender models in the industry is 'very limited'

Another trans male success on the books at Peche's agency is Dezjorn Gauthier from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who has also modeled for Barneys in their New York Campaign with Bruce Weber and has been published in magazines including Vogue and Vanity Fair.

Although several of the models have landed beauty campaigns on their own, many of the trans men and women on Peche's roster also include activists, artists and filmmakers with impressive credentials. 
Tiq Milan from New York, a writer who has been published in The New York Times, Ebony and BET, is another addition toTransModels.com'sMale' roster. 

Brooklyn-based Allex Knight, 27, who was born as Baptist Reverend's daughter, is still going through his physical transition with the help of donations and works as an associate producer in the TV industry. 
Rhyan Hamilton, 22, from Monterey, California, is one of the more recognizable names on the trans-woman roster and who, in fact, competed as a male contestant on America’s Next Top Model in 2013, but found the pressure to act masculine too much, eventually quitting the show after the first episode. She began her transition shortly after. 

The family: Mere months after inking the papers on her new company, Peche has signed 19 models - 10 men and 9 women - to her agency

Versatile talents: Allex Knight, 27, from Brooklyn works as an associate producer in the TV industry when he isn't modelling

Brains to back it up: Tiq Milan, one of the agency's signings, is also a writer and activist who has been published in Ebony, BT and The New York Times

'I never thought I’d model again,' she told The Atlantic. 'Then Trans Models reached out to me, and now I’m having this second wave of modeling, but this time as my authentic self as a trans woman.' 
The agency works with several photographers includingKreerathMikey Asanin and Hadriel Gonzalez as well as trans make-up artist Torraty Singanipar

There are two other transgender modelling agencies in the United States so far, one in Boise, Idaho, called Transcendence Icon and Apple Model Management in Los Angeles - a branch of a Thai agency.
Though some mainstream agencies are beginning to take on trans models, and the likes of Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox bringing awareness to them, things are still 'very limited'. 

Vikki Le, 26, a model from Vietnam who signed with the agency in July added: 'It’s like back in the ’80s when they had one black model on every runway and that’s it.'

But with the progress so far, Peche is hoping that she and her agency's talent can give trans a huge leap forward in the public conscience within a year. In fact, she is currently planning an all-trans fashion show for New York Fashion Week in February 2016.