Gisele Alicea says she always knew she was different. When she got to high school and learned about transgender women she realized that was the definition of what she had been feeling.
Today she’s a print and runway model who has been featured in campaigns for the luxury retailer Barney's New York and has been photographed by some of the most sought after photographers. She recently penned an essay for Glamour Magazine on her journey to finding happiness.
Gisele Alicea walking the runway at the Chromat Winter 2015 show.
“[Growing up] I was self-conscious about my skinny, boyish frame, so I’d pad my body before going out. It wasn’t until my sister pointed out that I had a ‘model’ figure that I decided to own my thinness. Eventually my confidence was untouchable,” Alicea wrote in her essay for Glamour.
Gisele Alicea before she walked Chromat runway during New York Fashion Week.
Alicea says talking to her school guidance counselors at the Harvey Milk High School, a school for LGBT youth in New York’s East Village, helped her have a better understanding of who she wanted to be.
Her time talking to counselors combined with her extracurricular activities after school, she says, led her to the “untouchable” confidence.
Alicea described New York City’s ballroom scene, as an “underground sorority for LGBT youth” that fostered her identity.
“It’s still such an empowering place for transsexuals. They put us on a pedestal when, in the real world, that’s often far from the case,” Alicea wrote in her essay for Glamour.
Gisele Xtravaganza walking the runway at New York ball.