Carmen Carrera is continuing her climb to the top as one of the most popular trans models in history, appearing in her own CNN special “In the spotlight: Carmen Carrera.

Carmen Carrera is continuing her climb to the top as one of the most popular trans models in history, appearing in her own CNN special In The Spotlight: Carmen Carrera.

Carmen Carrera On Her Transition

Carrera, 28, first shot to stardom when she competed on RuPaul’s Drag Race in 2010. Though she was eliminated mid-competition, Carrera has emerged as one of the most popular alums of the reality competition. This is partly due to her decision to publicize her journey as she embarked on her transition following her stint on the show.

Carrera, who was born biologically male, realized in kindergarten that she was meant to be a girl when she had a crush on a classmate. She quickly learned that she would be expected to be a “boy” at school, though her mother gave her the freedom to be herself in the home.

“I knew that it wasn’t me, as a boy having a crush on a boy. It was me, wanting to be a pretty girl, having a crush on a boy,” Carrera told CNN.

Carrera grew up forced to live a double life until, at 18, she began performing in drag shows in New York. She became enchanted with performing and began touring. Carrera says that her experience performing drag was crucial to her self-discovery.

“I also realized that being onstage game me an escape: I could be feminine, which is what I was on the inside. I never felt like a gay guy – growing up I’d pray that I would wake up a girl,” Carrera described in a personal essay for W magazine.

Her career in drag eventually led to RuPaul’s Drag Race. Carrera, a fanfavorite, says her experience on the show helped her finally make the decision to transition. Performing drag, she writes in W, was when she felt most like herself – she was not a gay man, but a woman.

“Eventually, I didn’t want to act like a woman anymore – I wanted to become one,” Carrera wrote.

Carmen Carrera: Breaking Barriers As A Trans Model

Carrera, who is signed with Elite Models, became more of a household name when fans of hers began a petition on Change.org to include Carrera in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. The petition was started too late for Carrera to actually participate, and Victoria’s Secret never commented on the petition, which reached over 46,000 signatures. But, Carrera says she has reached out to Victoria’s Secret and plans to audition for the lingerie company’s 2014 fashion show. Should she walk in the show, she will become the first transgender model to be a Victoria’s Secret Angel.

Carrera embraces her new life as a transgender advocate and role model to fans, saying she sees the Victoria’s Secret campaign as personal validation that fans believe in her. That knowledge, she says, inspires her to continue to work to break down barriers in the modeling world until she can be considered a model, not “the trans model.”

“No matter how insecure I might be, no matter how un-pretty I might feel, there are people out there who look to me to be strong and to keep going and to keep proving people wrong,” she told CNN.

Carmen Carrera Interview With Katie Couric

Carrera is still going through the transition, and while she is happy to be open about her experience as transgender, she recently stated her desire to move the focus away from the physical technicalities that the media obsesses over in trans people.

Carrera recently appeared on Katie Couric’s daytime talk show, Katie, where Couric asked her about her genitalia, a subject Carrera responded was “private.”

The awkward interview sparked online discussion on how trans people are treated by the media and our modern day society.

“They kind of always just make it about, ‘Ok, well let’s see your before, let’s see your after and what do your genitals look like.’ It doesn’t give trans people the proper credit. Especially when you’re working hard and you’re dong things that not a lot of other trans people get to do,” Carrera told CNN.

Carrera is currently in a on and off relationship with longtime partner, Adrian Torres, and is a stepmother to their 9-year-old daughter.

Olivia Truffaut-Wong

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