In the world of fashion editorial, there is no higher honor than landing the cover of a magazine's September issue. This year, Elle UK will print four different September covers — two of which will feature Amandla Stenberg, who recently came out as bisexual and nonbinary, and Hari Nef, the transgender actress and model featured in season two of Transparent.
While the magazine's Serbian counterpart featured its first trans woman, model Andreja Pejic, on its cover in 2013, that Stenberg and Nef have joined the likes of Kristen Stewart and Zayn Malik for the prestigious September issue makes a powerful statement about Elle's commitment to elevating LGBTQ celebrities.
"Well!" wrote Nef on Twitter, "I'm grateful and shook!"
Of course, the honor isn't one that Elle bestowed, but rather one Stenberg and Nef have earned in their own right.
Beyond her acting chops, Stenberg has become a voice for young women, particularly young girls of color, using her (Stenberg has clarified she uses "they" pronouns privately, but would prefer the public use "she" and "her") Tumblr page to speak out about race and sexuality. And the intersection of these two identities is crystal clear to the 17-year-old.
"As someone who identifies as a black, bisexual woman, I've been through it and it hurts and it's awkward and it's uncomfortable," said Stenberg when she took over Teen Vogue's Snapchat in January. Recently, she spoke candidly about intersectionality in a Tumblr Q&A she hosted for Rookie, saying, "I cannot separate my gender from my race from my sexual orientation. They're all interconnected and they're all intersectional."
"I cannot separate my gender from my race from my sexual orientation. They're all interconnected and they're all intersectional."
Nef, meanwhile, called out the fashion industry by name last year, when she shared her oppressive experiences as a model. "I feel like selling sex permeates all trans women professionals," she said in an interview with Good magazine. Though the objectification of women is unfortunately still a given in most industries, Nef said she knows there's a specific "fascination" with her body because she is trans.
In another interview with Vogue, Nef said she wants to push against the offensive "trans is trendy" attitude of the industry.
"Fashion is having a moment with trans aesthetics, not trans issues," Nef said.
Hopefully, Nef and Stenberg's latest covers are a step toward the latter — and a move to bring other marginalized identities to the center in the fashion world.