Long before Caitlyn Jenner shocked the world when she transitioned from male, Olympic superstar; and before Laverne Cox began giving groundbreaking performances on Orange Is The New Black, Tracey ‘Africa’ Norman was the first Transgender model to be featured in major magazines and score lucrative product endorsements.

In the 1970s, Newark, New Jersey native, Tracey Norman quietly began transitioning after high school. As part of her “training” on becoming more feminine, Norman would pose as a fashion student and sneak into modelling casting calls to watch black models walk and copy their mannerisms. One day, she followed a group of black models into a building in what turned out to be a casting call for Italian Vogue.

Photographer, Irving Penn was ecstatic that he had just discovered the next Beverly Johnson. Tracey ended up working in Italy and Europe for years and even scored major product endorsement deals with Clairol and Ultra Sheen makeup. It wasn’t until many years later that the industry ‘caught on’ and her modelling career abruptly ended. But still stunning in her 60s, Tracey Norman paved the way for Trans women working in film, television and fashion today… Even if they never knew it!

#TraceyAfricaNorman #BlackHistoryMonth


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