Model Ariel Nicholson has made history as the first transgender person to be featured on the cover of U.S. Vogue.
The LGBTQ rights advocate is one of eight models gracing the cover of the fashion magazine’s “Generation America“-themed September issue, which celebrates models that challenge industry norms. Nicholson, 20, shared the cover alongside models Anok Yai, Bella Hadid, Lola Leon, Sherry Shi, Yumi Nu, Kaia Gerber and Precious Lee.
Nicholson shared her excitement in an Instagram post last week.
“To have the opportunity to participate in the shifting landscape of fashion is a dream come true,” she wrote in the caption.
The New Jersey native has been no stranger to the spotlight. At 13, she was featured in the PBS documentary “Growing Up Trans,” which shared the personal journeys of eight transgender youths. Nicholson then went on to sign with a modeling agency while in high school, and in 2018, she became the first trans woman to walk in a Calvin Klein runway show.
Nicholson told Vogue that when she went into modeling, she took on the role as a “standard-bearer,” as she was and still is passionate about transgender rights and trans visibility. She was also blunt about the limits to “what ‘representation’ can do.”
“Obviously it’s a big deal being the first trans woman on the cover of Vogue,” she told the fashion magazine, “but it’s also hard to say exactly what kind of big deal it is when the effects are so intangible.”
She also shared the double-edged sword of being “a first”: “I’ve been put in this box — trans model. Which is what I am — but that’s not all I am,” she said.
Though Nicholson is the first transgender model to land on Vogue’s U.S. cover, Brazilian model Valentina Sampaio, who appeared on the cover of Vogue Paris in 2017, is the first trans model to grace the cover of any Vogue magazine.