Playboy will feature a transgender Playmate in its November issue, the magazine announced Wednesday.
French model Ines Rau, 26, will be the centerfold in the first issue to publish since Playboy’s founder Hugh Hefner died in September.
While many women pose nude in the magazine, there is only one Playmate each month, who is featured as the centerfold. Rau is no stranger to the magazine, and previously posed fully nude in a May 2014 issue.
In a statement, Rau said the 2014 spread was how she celebrated coming out as transgender.
“I lived a long time without saying I was transgender,” Rau said in a statement. “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.'”
And while Rau is the first transgender playmate, she is not the first transgender woman to appear in a pictorial in the magazine. In 1991, Bond Girl Caroline “Tula” Cossey, who is transgender, posed for the magazine.
Rau, who hopes to fight for a slew of issues ranging from LGBTQ rights to battling global warming, said she had a feeling someday she would be able to achieve a better life.
“I always knew from within, when I was a little kid in my room in the ghetto, that a beautiful destiny was waiting for me,” she says. “I don’t know how to explain it. A little voice was telling me, ‘You’ll see. Patience.’ ”
Cooper Hefner, Playboy’s chief creative officer, told the New York Times that choosing Rau as the Playmate “speaks to the brand’s philosophy.”
“It’s the right thing to do,” Hefner told the Times. “We’re at a moment where gender roles are evolving.”
While Hefner stands behind his decision, the reaction from fans on social media was mixed. Many praised Rau’s beauty, but others accused the magazine of using the model as a marketing ploy and “pushing” their agenda down readers throats.