Rising star takes modelling world by storm as a transgender man
Rising star Laith Ashley has taken the modelling world by storm – as a gorgeous transgender man.
With chiselled looks and broad shoulders, the New York hunk is breaking barriers just two years after his medical transition.
He shot his first national campaign with top photographer Bruce Weber for luxury department store Barney’s a month into his medical transition in November 2013.
And just recently, the 26-year-old model walked the New York Fashion week stage for a number of hot designers.
As well as almost 60,000 followers on Instagram, Laith boasts support from actresses Laverene Cox and Whoopi Goldberg.
He said: “New York fashion was fun – it’s funny as I never intended to get into modelling it just happened.
“But being a model now is definitely exciting. I’m always shocked when I’m walking to the gym or going to the store and people recognise me.
“It makes me feel good but it can be a bit of shock.
“Everything happens for a reason and I’m really excited to see where it goes from here.”
Laith was five-years-old when he realised there was as he described a “misalignment” with his body and gender identity.
For the last two years he’s been on testosterone which has deepened his voice and helped grow facial hair.
In 2015 he had surgery and to sculpt his muscular physique, Laith works-out three times a week, which includes rock climbing at Brooklyn Boulders.
He added: “I came out to my parents when I was 17.
“At the time I didn’t know what transgender was, so I just told them I had a girlfriend.
“But I never felt right with the idea of being a lesbian woman.
“I told my mum a year in advance that I was going to transition medically.
“There was a lot of fear at first. It took me six years from the moment I came out as trans to actually begin my medical transition.
“Once I got over that fear, there was no stopping me. I am the most comfortable I have ever been.
“When I look in the mirror, I am satisfied with that image. It is how I want to present myself to the world. This is me.”
However, the brave young man admitted being thrust into the spotlight has been a roller-coaster ride.
He said: “The initial attention was unexpected and I was excited.
“But then I went through a period of being very overwhelmed. I focused on all the negative comments I was receiving and just wanted to disappear.
“I never thought of myself as a role model, it was a label placed upon me after my photos began circulating through social media.”
Luckily for Laith he had the support of his loving family and friends.
He added: “My mum is Pentecostal Christian and although she loves me she felt it conflicted with her faith.
“My dad was fine. I told him that if he is proud of me it takes away the power of people who criticise. Who cares what other people think, if he is proud?
“My family and friends are very excited about my modelling.
“My mum brags about it to her friends at church.”
Laith is hoping modelling will open doors to a future career in acting, music, and dance.
He said: “I can get embarrassed easily and acting classes forces you to let go. I found it very therapeutic.
“I am still pretty early on in my transition. I find myself not being able to connect with people the way I did before.
“It might be partial fear, it might partially be me just becoming comfortable with myself.
“And I think that acting classes personally help me to open myself up to other people.”
Prior to becoming a clothes horse, Laith worked as an insurance navigator at Callen Lorde Community Health Center which focuses on the LBGT community.
Laith remains a passionate educator and activist for the community.
He added: “For me, I am simply living my truth.
“I know many look up to me, because I may fit the image they wish to achieve, which I find incredibly humbling, but I want them to also know that their life journey is their own.
“People should be true to themselves – they don’t have to fit a box.”