Who is the transgender model Laith Ashley and how did he rise to fame? Laith has been featured in fashion ads, TV ads, digital campaigns, and most recently, he was featured as the love interest in Taylor Swift’s music video, Lavender Haze. His impressive physique has captured the attention of brands worldwide. Without knowing his full story, you wouldn’t know how he become one of the top models representing the LGBTQ+ community.
Of course, there’s much more to Laith than you see on the surface. Keep reading to learn 13 fascinating facts about the transgender model Laith Ashley.
1. He Grew Up in the Fashion Capital
Despite calling the City of Angels home today, Ashley grew up in Harlem, New York City.
As a child, he had no idea he was living in the Mecca of fashion. The runways he would one day walk were housed in the very city he played baseball in.
Ashley’s family identified as Pentecostal Christian, a subset of Protestant Christianity. His religion affected him substantially, especially in his teen years when he grappled with accepting his queerness.
2. He Has Always Been Athletic
Laith’s defined muscles didn’t just show up once he transitioned. Ashley has always been athletic and into fitness, even as a child.
Growing up “female”, he was competitive and strong. He was talented at sports, especially boxing. Ashley even played on the boys’ team, which irritated the fathers of the other children.
Into adolescence and early adulthood, fitness continued to be a big part of his life. Today, he works out every day of the week, with his workouts varying from cardio to weightlifting.
3. He Knew He Was Different
Ashley recalls knowing there was something different about him at the age of four.
At that age, there was no vocabulary for explaining how he felt. He pushed his feelings away and remembers often praying for resolution. “Praying the gay away” is a common experience many LGBTQ+ people have when they grow up in religious households.
At 17, he came out as lesbian when he started dating a girl online. The label never felt right to him, and it wasn’t until he was 19 that he learned about trans people.
4. How Does Laith Ashley Identify?
Ashley never felt right identifying as lesbian or gay. Learning about the trans community on YouTube, he saw himself in the stories of others. He finally felt understood.
Some trans individuals choose pronouns like he/his or she/her. Others prefer they/them pronouns, or even ze/zir. Ashley felt most comfortable identifying as he/his.
As he transitioned from female to male, Ashley continued to date women. Today, he identifies as a straight, trans man.
5. He’s Always Been a Role Model
Prior to modeling, Ashley was a role model in his community. He worked as a social worker at an LGBTQ+ community center for youth.
His job was to provide guidance and support to youth struggling with their identities.
As a major name in the fashion industry today, he still maintains his role model position. Queer youth all over the world look up to him for inspiration and reassurance. He continues work as a trans activist in addition to fashion modeling.
View this post on Instagram
6. His Transition Was Life-Changing
Choosing to transition is never easy. Although you badly desire the outcome, the process can be scary and stressful.
Ashley began the process at 19 years old with hormone therapy. His voice depended and he quickly grew a beard. Nine months later, he had a double mastectomy.
The relief and inner-acceptance he felt after the initial transition was life-changing. But, he says that the transition is never really over. He’ll continue to make the decision to be a man every day for the rest of his life.
7. He Experiences Discrimination
Today, Ashley experiences a different type of racial discrimination than he did growing up. The Ashley family is of Latino decent, but he considers himself a New York native.
As a teenager, Ashley dressed like a tomboy, bucking gender expectations. He received some snide looks and comments then, but nothing like after transitioning.
The biggest difference now is that he gets stopped and searched by police. As a man of color, he’s all too frequently perceived as a threat. It has, unfortunately, made him accustomed to the discrimination that comes along with it.
8. He’s a Runway Pro
You can’t discuss Ashley’s amazing achievements without acknowledging his speedy rise to fame. Growing up, he never dreamed of becoming a fashion model.
It all started with a photoshoot in his Calvin’s and then an ad campaign for Barneys New York.
His photos landed him in every major fashion magazine and on the catwalks of New York Fashion Week. Notably, for the LGBTQ+ community, he was the first trans model to join the Pit Crew on RuPaul’s Drag Race.
9. He Can’t Please Everyone
Ashley recalls always being a people-pleaser. The fear of disappointing others was a strong emotion growing up.
Today, the fear still exists but has changed.
Many fans applaud him for representing female-to-male trans people and Latino trans men. But, some resent his representation since he’s straight and now enjoys the privileges associated with a straight male identity.
It goes to show you can’t please everyone. And, you can’t represent each person on such a wide, colorful, and overlapping spectrum.
10. He Has Famous Followers
One tiny fact about him you may not know is he has over 240 thousand Instagram followers. He uses the platform to promote his new singing career and his trans activism.
Some of his followers have a strong following of their own. The most notable of his followers are Laverne Cox, Alyssa Edwards, Adore Delano, and Buck Angel.
11. Laith Ashley is 5’10” Tall
Given Laith’s well developed physique and work as a model, many people wonder how tall he is. The answer is that he’s on the tall side at 5 feet, 10 inches tall.
Understandably, his height has helped him with his transition, as this is a common height among cisgender men.
12. Laith Ashley Was Born July 6, 1989
Frequently, people also wonder about Laith Ashley’s age. The answer is that he was born on July 6, 1989.
Thus, his astrological sign is Cancer, which is the fourth sign of the Zodiac.
At the date of this writing, he is 33 years old.
13. Laith Had Double Incision Top Surgery
Since appearing in Taylor Swift’s recent music video Lavender Haze, Laith has risen to even greater fame. Without a doubt, it’s incredible to see a trans model getting this kind of media coverage.
Having said that, the downside of Laith’s prominent appearance does raise the question, do trans actors only get featured when they meet “beauty culture’s” standards? It’s a tough question to answer, because it is true that Laith is a fit trans man who is probably perceived as cisgendered by most people on a day-to-day basis.
Under these circumstances, many queer people have been wondering, what kind of top surgery did Laith have?
The answer is that he had double incision top surgery in 2014. The reason his scars aren’t visible is that Laith’s scars have faded over the past decade and he has worked incredibly hard to develop his pectoral muscles. This allows his scars to rest within the folds and shadows of his pectoral muscles.
Laith Ashley on Instagram
Enjoy some of Laith’s best posts from Instagram below:
View this post on Instagram
View this post on Instagram
Want to Know More Laith Ashley and Other Trans Models?
The fashion industry today is much different than it was decades ago. The presence of trans models, like Laith Ashley, has allowed for more inclusion and representation in mainstream media.
Laith Ashley isn’t the only trans model making waves. Check out the rest of the blog to learn about the other LGBTQ+ superstars paving the way.