a lesson in gender with model siobhan atwell
The Canadian beauty opens up about transitioning and her path to making it as a model.
For as long as she can remember, Siobhan Atwell has always wanted to be a model. Having spent her formative years on a dairy farm in a small town in Kentville, Nova Scotia, where she lived as a boy named Seth, it wasn't until 2014 that her dreams finally came true, when she stepped out onto the fashion scene. Praised for her androgynous good looks -- her long luscious locks, pillowy lips, and intense smoldering stare -- she quickly became muse to Hood By Air designer, Shayne Oliver. While previously identifying as gender fluid, and alternating between "he," "she," and "they" pronouns, early this year Siobhan came out to the world as transgender. As she prepares to undergo hormone treatment, and transition into the woman she was always destined to become, we caught up the 22-year-old beauty to talk labels, gender, and what it means to be a girl.
What does modeling mean to you?
To me, modeling having fun with life and the career you are given and privileged to experience, and never take things to heart.
What made you decide to transition now?
It was really always on my mind for the past year and I just figured it was time to move on from doing androgynous and live my life the way I feel I should live it.
Have you always felt this way?
No, I always felt really feminine, but never thought to transition fully into a woman up until now.
Who or what inspires you and why?
Paris Hilton and Gigi Gorgeous inspire me to be beautiful, girly and to live life to the fullest and to be the most successful I can be.
What does gender mean to you?
Gender to me is how you identify and feel on the inside.
What does it mean to be female?
To me being female is powerful, beautiful, and strong.
Trans issues are part of the cultural conversation in a way they haven't been before. Why do you think this is?
I think trans issues have become more a part of the conversation because we are getting a lot of attention as of recently. And I think it's amazing and needs to become more than a conversation and made into an action in terms of doing something good about the issues.
Do you ever feel pigeon-holed by terms such as transgender?
Yes I do. Some people feel I need to be doing transgender editorials, or runway shows for clothing that is "gender non-conforming" but I need to show all those people that I am more than transgender. I am a women and I do, and can do jobs that are strictly for cis women.
On the one hand, you want to be proud of your transition and yet on the other, you want to be recognized as a woman, an individual human being. How do you reconcile between the two?
I am proud to be transgender. But I am also a human, a model and a women. And I need to be looked at and respected as all three.
Do you think there is a danger of trans people being objectified or exploited as a trend, particularly within fashion?
I do feel like it's a trend right now, and that's why it was the perfect timing for me to come out. In my experience, I have never been exploited. But I feel like my look in general is a trend, but a very special and unique one.
Does this necessarily matter when at least it's shining the spotlight onto the trans community and encouraging more trans kids to come forward?
I feel it's good to get attention on the trans community but it has to be in a positive way and can NOT be joked about in anyway. We need to make it so kids feel safe to come forward and to feel they have support.
What are you working on right now?
I'm just focusing on my transition and health at the moment. Getting prepared for HRT (hormone replacement therapy) and getting ready for a huge comeback.
What are your hopes and dreams for the future?
My hopes and dreams is to become more successful then I have ever been and to be happy and healthy and live my life.
Text Tish Weinstock