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Ines Rau is Playboy’s first transgender Playmate

Ines Rau has become the first transgender person to appear as a Playboy centerfold. The cover hits newsstands on Oct. 31. (Video: Reuters)

Ines Rau is Playboy magazine’s first transgender Playmate, appearing in the marquee centerfold spot of the magazine’s November/December issue, which will be available Oct. 31.

The 26-year-old French fashion model first appeared in the magazine’s May 2014 issue in a feature exploring gender identity titled “Evolution.” In an interview published by Playboy last week, Rau said that participating in that spread had changed her life.

“I took that chance, and then I signed with an agency,” she said.

Playboy’s newest Playmate is not the first transgender woman to appear in the magazine. Caroline “Tula” Cossey appeared in a 1981 issue. She had appeared as an extra in the James Bond movie “For Your Eyes Only.” At the time, though, she was not public about her transgender status. She was featured again in 1991 after being outed as transgender.

The forthcoming issue of Playboy will be a tribute to the magazine’s legendary founder Hugh Hefner, who died last month at age 91. In announcing Rau as the next issue’s Playmate, the 64-year-old magazine sought to counter any criticism by comparing the choice of Rau to other controversies it has faced — perhaps even courted — in the past. The magazine issued a series of tweets about the reaction it received after choosing its first black Playmate in 1965.

Rau told the magazine that coming out as transgender has been liberating experience. “It’s a salvation to speak the truth about yourself, whether it’s your gender, sexuality, whatever,” she said. “The people who reject you aren’t worth it. It’s not about being loved by others; it’s about loving yourself.”

Playboy received some negative comments on social media for its choice of Playmates, but the magazine stood firm.