French model Ines Rau reached a major milestone this month as the first transgender woman to become a Playboy Playmate in publication's 64-year history. The 26-year old model appears in the first issue to be released after Playboy founder Hugh Hefner's death late last month. Serving as November 2017 Playmate, the Paris, France, native spoke to the magazine about what it meant to her to change perceptions about beauty and acceptance as well as come to terms with her truth in the revealing interview. Before anyone gets into the Hef rolling in his grave jokes, this isn't the first time that a transgender model has been featured in the magazine, but it is the first time as an official Playmate.

This is the second time that Ines Rau herself has posed nude in Playboy, the first time was in March of 2014, but a lot has changed since then. Rau had this to say.

"I lived a long time without saying I was transgender. 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. The people who reject you aren't worth it. It's not about being loved by others; it's about loving yourself."

The Playboy feature comes as transgender models are becoming increasingly visible in fashion brands and media. Ines Rau has been featured in the pages of Vogue as well as Marie Claire and Balmain.

Rau said Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, an outspoken supporter of civil rights, had personally chosen her to be the magazine's first transgender Playmate before he died at the age of 91 in September, and "told me he was very proud of me." Ines Rau went on to talk about the overwhelming encouragement that she has received as well as some of the hate too. She explains.

"The messages of encouragement I've received from people have been amazing, although I'm still told by some that I'm ugly and should never be allowed in Playboy... When I was doing this shoot, I was thinking of all those hard days in my childhood. And now everything happening gives me so much joy and happiness. I thought, Am I really going to be a Playmate - me? It's the most beautiful compliment I've ever received. It's like getting a giant bouquet of roses."

While most are supportive, some people are angry at the decision, one of which is former porn star Jenna Jameson who tweeted out her disapproval.

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The decision to feature Ines Rau as a Playmate has sparked debate on social media, with one man commenting on the magazine's Facebook page that "this was the last straw, sorry but I like my women real, not 500 surgeries later." That man was not alone, but Rau seems to take it all in stride, saying, "there will always be trolls, but if I can help others to love themselves then it's worth it." But it seems that those in support of Ines Rau are far outnumbering the haters and it looks like her message is being seen on a much wider scale than she previously imagined.

The 8-page spread, plus pullout centerfold, features a total of seven pictures of Ines Rau. She began transitioning with hormonal treatments when she was 16 and had reassignment surgery shortly after that time. Rau says, "nudity is a celebration of the human being without all the excess. It's not about sexuality but the beauty of the human body, whether male or female. You can't lie." Next up, Ines Rau is going to write a book to share her story and empower anyone that has ever felt different. In the meantime, you can check out the whole interview with Ines Rau courtesy of Playboy.

Kevin Burwick at Movieweb
Kevin Burwick