Before celebrities like Caitlyn Jenner paved the way for the transgender community, there was another well-known face unknowingly changing history over forty years earlier — Clairol model Tracey Norman.
1970s model Tracey Norman may not be a name as recognizable as other African American models of the time like Iman and Beverly Johnson, but her story is definitely an important one. Speaking to The Cut, Tracey not only shared what it was like to be a black model in the ’70s, but she also revealed that she was a transgender model — a secret she kept at the time.
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In the interview, Tracey said from the time she was old enough to remember, she felt like she was really female. “It just seemed like I was living in the wrong body. I always felt female,” she said. A year after graduating high school, Tracey says she finally felt like she was who she was meant to be. “I was always a daytime girl, bright sun, walking the streets, going to visit a friend. It started small. It was no big, ‘I’m here!'” she said. “It was fantastic being myself. It felt so free.”
It was then that Tracey really tried to break into the fashion industry, quietly attending shows by saying she was a fashion student at FIT. Her big break came in 1975, when she followed a group of black models into an audition and was booked for a two-day shoot with Italian Vogue the very next day — without even being signed to an agency!
Clairol Transgender Model Tracey Norman — Meet The ’70s Supermodel Who Paved The Way
With her Vogue shoot completed, Tracey signed with the modeling agency, Zoli, and her career took off. She was traveling around the country for photo shoots, and even worked with Essence magazine. And while Tracey says she believes a few people had caught on to her secret in the industry, no one really said anything.
It was in the mid-’70s that Tracey became the face of Clairol‘s new Born Beautiful hair color line for women of color. For six years, Tracey was the face on the Dark Auburn, Box 512 box, serving as beauty inspiration for thousands of women.
What do you think of Tracey’s inspiring story, HollywoodLifers?