“Society rewards me the most for dressing as cisgendered heterosexual white male,” explains androgynous, gender-fluid model Rain Dove, as she shrewdly ranks each of her gender and sexuality shells in order of how safe she feels in public. Rain is an accidental model, who launched a successful career after being goaded by a friend to audition for a Calvin Klein runway show. After being sorted as “male” by the casting director and asked to walk topless with the rest of the guys, Rain did so with her characteristic daring, “boobs out.”
And while this ballsy move launched her career as both a both men’s and women’s wear model known for her fierce gender nonconformity, it was also a formative experience in terms of her own personal struggle with being shunned for who she is, as well as for fashion’s still nascent embrace of non-cisgender identities.
Despite the turbulence that Rain’s refusal of gender norms has sometimes wrought on her life-- growing up, kids referred to her as “Tranny Danny”-- her defiant independence, disarming charm, and unwavering sense of self outside of society’s norms has powered her personal journey to self acceptance.