LAKSHMI SINGH, HOST:
For the first time, Playboy will feature a transgender woman as its Playmate of the Month, including its centerfold. She is 26-year-old French fashion model Ines Rau. Ms. Rau is among a small group of transgender individuals who have found such success in the modeling world. And we called her up to ask her about Playboy's move and what it means at a time when transgender people have been dealt so many political setbacks in the United States. We reached her in Paris, France. Ines, welcome.
INES RAU: Hello. Thanks for having me. I'm so excited.
SINGH: It's a pleasure to have you on. Now, it should be said first that you are not the first transgender model, and you have already modeled in the magazine - in Playboy - before.
RAU: Yes, I did.
SINGH: So why is this considered such a significant move?
RAU: Well, I'm very honored to be part of making progress towards a more loving and accepting world. This is as heavy as it is because it's not about just being in the magazine. They really wanted me as a Playmate. I think they wanted to stand for a cause and for a message. I know that Hugh Hefner was very sensitive to - was an advocate of freedom and sexual liberation and always fought for LGBT as well. I know he was fighting for same-sex marriage before and everything. So I think it's good.
SINGH: Going through the shift, going through the change of having to, first, deal with everything that's involved with being transgender - facing of the stigma - stigma in your community - from that point to arriving here where you have exposed yourself to millions of people to accept you for who you are, give me an idea of what that transformation has been like for you.
RAU: You know, it's really like a constant fight - you fight with yourself. You fight with society. But it's so worth it. I'm super happy. And I feel very lucky to be a model and to be the one who has been chosen for Playboy because I feel like a magazine like Playboy is like putting a crown of immunity on my head. And for transgender to feel - what's the word - I'm sorry. I'm French. Sometimes, I'm looking for my words - to feel legit as a woman. You know, when I was younger, I had no one to look up to make me feel good and worth being. So if I can be the one to make all transgender people feel worth being, worth loving, this is an amazing thing.
SINGH: Let me ask you also - Hugh Hefner's death in September has prompted much debate. On the one hand, some see him as a progressive leader for free speech and civil rights. Others said he fostered a culture of misogyny and manipulation. What are your thoughts on all of those points?
RAU: So everybody has the right to have their opinion about Mr. Hugh Hefner. The way I see him is, as you said before, a progressist and an advocate of freedom. So that's the way I see it.
SINGH: How are you hoping your new-found recognition - how do you see this as championing a movement?
RAU: You know, I think that it means that people will be more accepting and, more importantly, for future generation, that would be something that would be more normal because everybody deserves to feel good in their skin, you know. Everybody deserves to be happy.
SINGH: Ines Rau will be featured in Playboy, which hits stands on October 31. Thank you so much for speaking with us, Ines.
RAU: Thank you so much. Thanks for having me.
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