Fans of transgender model Carmen Carrera were left disappointed after a petition to include the model in the 2013 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show failed, but the burlesque performer told Fusion’s Alicia Menendez that she plans to take matters into her own hands for next year’s show.
“I’m going to definitely go for it next year,” Carrera said on Tuesday, the day the 2013 show airs without her. She said she plans to train, tone up and audition.
“I just think that I should approach them.”
Victoria’s Secret, which declined multiple requests for comment from Fusion, has yet to acknowledge a Change.org petition that called for the lingerie retailer to embrace the transgender community by including Carrera as its newest “Angel.”
“By asking Carmen to be a model, Victoria's Secret would show the entire community that they embrace trans patrons,” reads the petition. “There are so many prejudices toward the trans community, even within the LGBT community, and many trans individuals are not seen as real people. To see a transgender model walk would show that trans women are to be taken seriously and that Angels are selected because of their character and talent. As a brand, Victoria's Secret should feel comfortable marketing towards ALL types of women.”
Carrera said the lack of response from Victoria’s Secret hasn’t made her feel invisible, because she’s “pretty sure” the petition generated enough buzz that the company is aware.
But, she said, “I think it’s a little messed up for all these, you know, fans that came out and signed to not be acknowledged but I definitely acknowledged of it and it’s love and, you know, I share that love right back with them.”
The petition, which has garnered nearly 45,000 signatures since it was posted in early November, drew the attention of comedian Chelsea Lately, who poked fun at the idea by having a model playing Carrera come on the show and say in an affected deep voice “One day, I hope to be Victoria’s dirty little secret.”
“I watch Chelsea Handler all the time,” Carrera said in response. “I get that she’s sarcastic and stuff, but I just think that right now is not a good time to poke fun of trans people. You know, we’re still working for that respect, we’re still working for equality, and to be taken seriously.”
Carrera grew up as Christopher Roman in New Jersey and began her transition to a woman after appearing on the LOGO network reality show, “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” She didn’t immediately tell her family about her transition and said it was “a little awkward in the beginning” when they found out. Ultimately, though, she said, “My family loves me, you know, and they see that I carry myself with the same set of values that, you know, the rest of my family does and I respect myself, so I don’t think that it was anything too hard to deal with…they love me no matter what.”
Not everyone has been as receptive. While she hasn’t received much pushback from the drag community, some audience members at drag shows who expect to see men dressed as women are confused. While men dressed as women used to be a given at shows, Carrera said, drag no longer has those restrictions.
“You express whatever art you want to express through song,” she said, “so it’s more like performance art, super open-minded.”
“When you perform in a drag show, I don’t think your gender really matters or your sexual orientation,” she added. “It’s more about the show, your performance, what you’re expressing.”
If she does make some men uncomfortable, Carrera said, that says more about the man than her own life.
“I feel like men who are uncomfortable with the idea of someone like me are just probably, they haven’t necessarily explored their sexual orientation, I think,” she said. “I think someone that’s secure in their manhood, you know a man that likes women, you know, I think that they would understand that I am a woman now and that’s it. You know, there’s no looking back.”
Carrera is just now coming to fully understand all that being a woman entails. The biggest surprise about being female, she said, is the dynamics of the women’s bathroom.
“I didn’t realize,” she said, “how catty some women can be.”
Emily DeRuy is a Washington, D.C.-based associate editor, covering education, reproductive rights, and inequality. A San Francisco native, she enjoys Giants baseball and misses Philz terribly.