By Emma Firth

Has the fashion world reached a transgender turning point? The road to inclusivity on the catwalk has been a rocky one, to say the least. “If a girl chooses to be open about her “transness” she will face a reality in the modeling industry where she is too easily stamped with the label of “other,” Andreja Pejić shared on Instagram earlier this week. “Placed into a separate and rather confined box, which in the context of high fashion is rarely opened.” Belgium-born trans model Maxim Magnus – who made her Fashion Week debut today for Paula Knorr during LFW – has recently signed to new London based model agency Linden Staub. LS ethos is to empower their girls and encourage them to use their voices and creativity, as well as being top editorial models (Magnus recently got involved with Gurls Talk and was part of a panel discussion with Adwoa Aboah in Berlin). Hunger caught up with the 19-year-old one-to-watch…

How did you break into modelling?

I’m studying fashion communications at Conde Nast College and one of my friends was doing a end of year project and asked me to do a bikini shoot with them as a model. Then my teachers when they were marking it came up to me and were like “Maxim, maybe you should consider modelling,” and they booked an appointment with Linden Staub. I was only signed a couple of weeks ago!

I loved your YouTube video ‘Trans Is Not A Trend’ – what was the main message you wanted to put across to people?

Well originally it was for a school project. And we were doing something around subcultures and my teacher casted LGBTQ as subculture. And I really didn’t agree with that because it’s not a choice. I think that’s the thing that a lot of people don’t understand you don’t just wake up one day like ‘I’m going to change into a woman’. It just doesn’t happen like that. I wanted to educate people; it’s not easy and it’s not something fun. I think in the fashion industry in particular in comes across as quite a trendy thing. When Caitlin Jenner came out as transgender for example; the fashion industry almost took a bit advantage of that.

Have you encountered any online abuse?

A lot! Attacking the way that I look and the way that I am. I think a lot of the time it comes from uneducated people. A lot of the time I think it comes from anger because it’s almost like people think I’ve fooled them, like when they look at my photos I don’t think people would know [that I’m trans]. And then when they find out they’ll comment like: “Oh I knew all along, I can tell by your eyebrows and low voice.” They need to justify that they weren’t stupid enough to believe I was a woman. It makes you stronger though – it’s just people that don’t feel comfortable in themselves. You need to reevaluate some things because I don’t know what you’re doing.

What advice would you give your 12-year-old self?

I would say don’t acknowledge the bullies, don’t sweat the small stuff and never give up. Even if you’re at rock bottom and you don’t see the end of the tunnel, just work hard and keep going because nothing is going to come of sitting there and pitying yourself. Great things will come.