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She hid the truth of her gender as a s cover star. Now the brand that launched her has offered her another chance of fame. The extraordinary face on the side of its bottle belonged to Tracey Norman, one of the first African American models to make it big and the second black woman, after Beverly Johnson, to appear on the cover of Vogue.

Yeah, we are born beautiful. Norman, however, was keeping an extraordinary secret. As a trans woman she was making history, all the while hoping that no one else would ever know. Cox, a trans actor, and every other woman who bought a bottle of Nohad no idea that the beautiful black woman on the side of the Clairol bottle had begun life as a biological boy. Norman was, in short, the first black transgender model. In recent years, rapid if overdue progress has been made in the realm of trans rights and trans visibility.

Norman was, as she understands it, outed on a shoot and with that, her career was in effect terminated. Now, however, Clairol has welcomed her back into the spotlight and in front of the camera.

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For Norman, who knew from a very young age that her body did not match her gender, such affirmation was hard to come by. Born in Newark, New Jersey, she was the first person in her family to graduate from high school. On the same day in that she received her diploma, she summoned the courage to tell her mother the truth. Her mother, in turn, told her she had always known. She became interested, albeit tentatively, in the idea of modelling. One day in she spotted a group of well-known black models on the street and followed them into the Pierre hotel in New York, assuming they were heading to a fashion show.

In fact they were heading to a casting. Norman, who hung back so as to be last in line, found herself facing a panel of three people. She had no idea that they were an Italian Vogu e editor, the fashion deer Luciano Soprani and the photographer Irving Penn. By little more than chance and chutzpah, a black girl from New Jersey in s America had just gone from virtually nothing to the s of Vogue.

Only Norman knew that the whole truth was even more extraordinary. One of her most loyal clients was Essencea magazine Norman had worked with plenty of times before it booked her for a shoot for its Christmas issue.

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Norman recalled that, soon after, the shoot was shut down and, with it, her career. She believes the hair assistant had discovered her secret. I always suspected she was genetically male.

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I accepted her as she presented herself, as an exquisitely beautiful black woman. None the less, Norman maintains this is the day her career ended. So when the doors were opened for me, I walked right through. And then the doors slammed … Once the doors closed, I was no longer a woman and I no longer got the respect of a woman. About 18 months after that shoot, Norman bought a ticket to Paris where she got by for two years working in mostly low-profile jobs. Then, she returned to New York and ed with a small agency. When she was hired for an Ultra Sheen cosmetics ad, her third beauty contract, it seemed like a comeback.

After that she was unable to get work and she gave up her apartment and moved back in with her mother. In the intervening years, Norman has earned a living at Show Center, a burlesque peep show featuring trans women in Times Square. The success of her Vogue days, however, seemed distant and irretrievable. Then, last December, New York Magazine ran a cover story and, once again, her life changed. Norman, who has spent decades training herself in invisibility as a mode of survival, needed convincing to agree to such high-profile press.

That is most evident in the Clairol contract — a personal triumph and homecoming for a woman shunned by her profession for decades. More important, though, it is a triumph for trans visibility. The Observer Transgender. Tracey Norman today with the hair dye for which she modelled at the height of her career in Photograph: Lacey Terrell. Hermione Hoby in New York. Sun 21 Aug .

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Topics Transgender The Observer Models features. Reuse this content.

Norman black ladys want to fuck

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