Paris Lees is fierce, fabulous, and beautiful, and she’s featured in British Vogue’s celebration of women. The article is called “Meet the New Suffragettes,” and appears in the February 2018 edition.
Paris Lees is a writer, editor, model, human and transgender rights activist, feminist, and pioneer. She praises Vogue Magazine in the BBC, saying,”Look how far we’ve come… It’s insane that I could be in Vogue. A trans kid from a council estate. People at school told me I’d never be a girl, would never be pretty enough, would never be accepted—well, here I am being celebrated as a woman.”
Lees founded the magazine META, an online journal for the transgender community, the first of its kind in the UK. She worked as assistant editor at Gay Times, and wrote for Diva Magazine, as well as being the publication’s first transgender woman cover model. Lees has also written for mainstream and general interest publications such as The Guardian, The Independent, The Daily Telegraph, and Vice.
Her extensive work in activism for transgender people put her in the public eye the past few years, getting her top spot on The Independent on Sunday’s 2013 Pink List, second spot on the 2014 Rainbow List, and a Positive Role Model Award in the 2012 National Diversity Awards.
Paris has received a significant amount of backlash for her appearance in Vogue, centered around the usual suspects—not being a real woman, etc. Some tweets and emails have been downright hateful, but she is feisty and stands her ground against bigotry.
“Thank you to all the people who’ve taken time out of their happy and meaningful lives to tell me I’m not a real woman and don’t deserve to be in Vogue,” she tweeted @parislees. “The thing is I look amazing and it’s already gone to press so there’s nothing you can do about it, but do have a lovely weekend!”
Lees was not always so confident and self-directed. When she was young and still living in the male body she’d been born into, she identified as a gay man and was miserable. As a teen, she got carried away with drugs and ran into troubles, committing a robbery that landed her in a men’s prison for eight months. There, she thought carefully about whether she wanted to live in depression and misery, or find happiness and stability in living the truth.
She got her act together and studied English in university, then began working with various media companies consulting to regulate transphobic material and educate journalists and other writers about trans issues.
Bravo Paris, and bravo Vogue!