Playboy Makes History With First Transgender Centerfold: An Interview With Sydney Sarayeva

In the US, the transgender community has received more attention in recent years thanks to public support from celebrities such as Laverne Cox, Caitlyn Jenner, and Elliot Page. With this growing acceptance, case managers may interact with transgender clients who are not afraid to publicly declare their identities. Various industries, including the fashion and modeling world, are also making significant strides in embracing transgender people.

Playboy is one of the prominent fashion and modeling publications to declare their support of the transgender community. Cooper Hefner, the magazine’s senior executive, recently explained that featuring a transgender Playmate was in line with Playboy’s original objective to embrace evolving sexual mores.

This news has been widely accepted and welcomed by top model and influencer, Sydney Sarayeva. Sydney is a celebrated transgender model, actress, writer, content creator, and influencer. She is notable for being the first transgender model for Shetopia, the Sally Hansen Beauty campaign, and the EveryWoman Campaign, which was featured in Vice, earning her a feature in Dare Magazine. In addition to being an ambassador for top brands such as Knix, she authored a story on her experiences with Intermission Magazine, an online Canadian theater publication where she was featured as an actor.

According to Sydney, the move by Playboy is a significant win for the transgender community.

“As a transgender model, actress, writer, content creator, and influencer, I have experienced everything from discrimination, isolation, and been denied many opportunities simply for being who I am,” she says.

She believes it’s also a significant boost as she works on creating a platform of influential change and being a voice for transgender women, especially during such an era of heated debate, discussion, and discourse on the subject from two polarizing sides. “I am someone who believes the truth is in the middle and somewhere we can all agree,” she adds.

But Sydney also had to overcome numerous challenges, including only securing roles exclusively serving a love interest to a main character or participating exclusively in shoots focused on promoting diversity without actual inclusion in mainstream media. “So often I find myself in situations where I’m pushed to do certain roles or take certain shoots where I’m essentially being exploited for being transgender,” she says.

Fortunately, Sydney overcame this by practicing her craft, putting herself out there as an individual, and ensuring she built up her confidence to pursue the same jobs as everyone else. To her, most of the time, people are so focused on their performance and anxieties that they don’t have time to notice yours, which should never be the case.

Sydney encourages other transgender people never to stop thinking they can’t do something because they’re different. “Talent is talent and should be recognized as such. Whether I’m in front or even behind the camera, speaking to an audience, in a casting call for modeling, or at an audition, having the true belief in your abilities translates into confidence and being present,” she adds. Just being visible, open, and an accessible role model for people in your position can truly change the world in more ways than a lot of people think is possible.