Lauren Foster is the first trans woman to be honored by Variety Magazine as a Woman of Empowerment. “It’s an incredible honor,” says the supermodel and LGBTQ Activist. “It is one of those delights that tells me that I’m on the correct life path.”
Lauren believes she’s lived two lives. Her second path began at 18, when, with the full support of her loving parents and family, she transitioned into a woman. It was the early ‘80s and Lauren was just beginning to experience success as a fashion model. Worried her truth might stunt her burgeoning career, she chose to live stealth; a trans-term that refers to a person who passes as their desired gender and lives in secret. It all came to a head, however, when after appearing in Vogue, a rival model outed Lauren as transgender in the pages of the supermarket tabloid, National Enquirer. “Vogue Model Used To Be a Man,” read the magazine’s headline.
“I literally stared at the Enquirer and cried and locked myself in my apartment for a week,” remembers Lauren. “I couldn’t tell anyone why I was upset because then I would out myself again. I had counted on living my entire life with my secret but now the world knew. It felt like a violation.”
She thought it meant the end of her career, but it wasn’t. She continued modeling. She also proved herself an actress in Circuit and Joseph Lally’s provocative and artistic films, Faces and Miss America Commits Suicide. She then found success throwing rave parties, working alongside Jeffrey Sanker, the most powerful promoter in the underground party circuit, and eventually began managing club music artists like DJ Paolo, Tracy Young and even Grace Jones. Most recently, Lauren starred on Real Housewives of Miami, becoming the first transgender woman to appear regularly on the franchise.
“The world today is so much more accepting,” she reflects now from her Miami home. “The trans community is experiencing a whole renaissance, so to speak. Especially with the millennial generation, the whole idea of fluid gender doesn’t faze them. It’s probably why some of my best relationships have been with men in their 20s and 30s.”
She jests, of course, but you know what they say; there’s a grain of truth in every joke. Lauren Foster is often compared to Samantha Jones from Sex and the City. Like Jones, she is a bold, sexually liberated, powerfully independent woman who has never been reliant on anyone or anything for success and happiness. “Samantha lived her life the way she wanted to live it. So I appreciate the comparison, but they should have called me when they wrote the script. My input would have made Samantha way wilder.”
To trans youth coming of age, Lauren advises they learn and appreciate their herstory. “We’ve come a long way, baby!”
To the cisgender community who are finally coming to terms with the rise of trans, she advises they keep an open mind and understand that ultimately everyone wants the same thing.
As for her future, it is shining brighter than ever. She is Director of the LGBTQ Clinic at the University of Miami where she works with trans patients. She also continues to act and model. She is fun, exciting, reckless, adventurous, a risk taker, and now, a recognized Woman of Empowerment.
“It’s a great time to be me and my being able to acknowledge that, itself, is a blessing.”
By Steven Boyce
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