Rihanna Condemns Casting "Token" Trans Models

Rihanna 2016 Christian Dior Photocall - Getty - H 2017
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"I don’t think it’s fair that a trans woman, or man, be used as a convenient marketing tool!"

Thankfully, there has been increased visibility of trans men and women in pop culture in recent years, largely because of outspoken role models like Laverne Cox and a greater cultural conversation about gender identity, the gender spectrum and inclusion in general. 

That being said, tokenism as a means to solve the greater issue of diversity and representation is a widely criticized practice — and Rihanna reminded a well meaning fan of that fact on social media. 

On Wednesday, Twitter user @lbertootero sent the singer a direct message reading, "Fenty Beauty campaign is awesome, next time you record something you should invite a trans girl to the group." In a lengthy response, RiRi replied that she doesn't "think it's fair" when trans people are used "as a convenient marketing tool." 

"I’ve had the pleasure of working with many gifted trans women throughout the years, but I don’t go around doing trans castings!" she explained. "I respect all women, and whether they’re trans or not is none of my business! It’s personal and some trans women are more comfortable being open about it than others so I have to respect that as a woman myself!"

She adds, "Too often do I see companies doing this to trans and black women alike! There’s always jut that one spot in the campaign for the token 'we look mad diverse' girl/guy! It’s sad!" 

The majority of responses to her comment have been positive, however there were a few fans who countered that visibility is more important whatever negativity spawns from tokenism. "We respect Rihanna and agree that Trans bodies are used as an easy way to make brands appear 'inclusive,'" wrote Sateen, a queer music duo, on Twitter. "But at this point visibility is integral for trans [people]. More brands need to be hiring trans/[gender non-conforming] [people] and [people of color] in GENERAL."