Trans Beauty Lights Up “Korea’s Next Top Model”

America’s Next Top Model kicks off its 19th cycle next Friday with an all-new set of judges after Nigel Barker, Jay Manuel and Miss J. Alexander were given the boot. But it’s an international version of the show—there have been more than two dozen to date—making waves right now: Season Three of Korea’s Next Top Model features among its cast of aspiring fashionistas Choi Han-bit, who is transgender.

You might recall that Tyra Banks broke barriers in 2008, during ANTM‘s 11th cycle, with the casting of trans woman Isis King. She proved so popular that producers brought her back last year for another go in the show’s first all-star season.

Choi, 26, studied traditional dance in college. With the support of her parents, she received gender-reassignment surgery six years ago and changed her name, which means “ray of sunshine.”

In a 2009 interview with Korea Times, she said “self-confidence” was her coping mechanism for dealing with intolerance: “I have found many sexual minorities who distanced themselves from society to avoid public exposure,” Choi explained. “I would like to advise them not to hide and [to] come out. With a fear of public attention, it’s all but impossible to change people’s attitude toward us.”

Excellent advice for anyone, LGB or T.

The Korea Herald dubbed Choi South Korea’s first transgender supermodel after she advanced to the finals of a modeling contest sponsored by the Seoul Broadcasting System. From there, it was a hop, skip and a jump to KNTM. The fourth episode airs tomorrow night: Queerty readers in Korea are invited to contribute a play-by-play.

And should the American version return for a 20th cycle next spring, Choi is the ideal guest judge or mentor. Get cracking, Tyra!

Photo: Korea’s Next Top Model.

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  • sheena


  • Gauthier

    She’s gorgeous! I’ll be rooting for her.

  • Scott

    I hesitate to say this but – most of the girls look the same. I am myself Asian, so it isn’t that I’m unaccustomed to differentiating faces. Their bodies, dresses, hairstyles and makeup make them almost interchangeable.

  • sheena

    im asian and i dont look like her and no one looks the same everyones diufferent and pretty :-)…….they may have same clothes or hairstyle but theres always something special that makes one stand out :-)

  • Dianne

    Unless the model identifies as a lesbian, this has nothing to do with gay people. Why does Queerty posts these stories about heterosexuals with gender identity disorder who resolved their problem by surgically altering their bodies. That has nothing to do with being gay or lesbian.

  • journey91

    @Dianne: This is an LGBT site and last time I checked
    the t stood for transgender.

  • GeriHew

    @Dianne: You’re being a monosexist bigot Dianne. But at least you’re respecting Choi’s gender identity, so I guess that makes you slightly more open-minded than Janice G. Raymond.

  • Rooney

    Go away with your transphobia, Dianne.

  • Donna

    @Dianne: @Dianne:

    Queerty promotes itself as “the LGBT news, politics, lifestyle, gossip, and entertainment site. ” The T in LGBT stands for transgender. Hope that answers your question.

    However, the idea of a trans person “resolving their problem” with surgery is not accurate. Since you’re so interested in us — given that you clicked on this post to voice your opinion — here are several books that might help you learn more about the little “T” at the end of the rainbow:

    “Gender Outlaw” by Kate Bornstein
    “Whipping Girl” by Julia Serano
    “She’s Not There” by Jennifer Finney Boylan

    Good luck on your voyage of discovery, my friend, and thank you for your interest.

  • james

    Hmmm…well, she is a bit old (26) for a model…but she has the right look and she is 5’11…which is a great height for a model. She could win.

Comments are closed.