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‘Strut’ Is The Transgender ‘America’s Next Top Model’ We’ve Been Waiting For

America’s Next Top Model, step aside. A new Oxygen series executive produced by Whoopi Goldberg will follow transgender models “breaking down barriers” in the fashion industry. Strut will center on Slay Model Management (best name ever), the first agency to exclusively represent transgender talent. Their mantra? “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but building the new.”

Strut follows a group of inspiring and resilient trailblazers who are working to change the modeling industry, and the world around them, by simply being true to themselves. These individuals will empower viewers as they live their lives fully and unapologetically, despite facing many obstacles throughout their journey,” explains Oxygen’s EVP of original programming and development, Rod Aissa. A quick glance at Slay’s roster and you can see these individuals have the looks and skill to do it. That said, they certainly have their work cut out for them. Spring 2016 fashion ads only featured one trans model, Lana Wachowski — and she’s not even working in the industry.

“This show is important right now because for all of the positive advances the community has made and continues to make, transgender is still a hot-button word that gets people hysterical,” affirms the View co-host and medical marijuana entrepeneur. “People tend to focus on the stereotype instead of the person, and this series will give viewers a unique opportunity to spend time with real people who are struggling with the same challenges we all face as we make our way through the world. You may even be surprised to discover that you have been seeing and interacting with transgender men and women in ways you didn’t even realize!”

It’s encouraging how consistently LGBTQ personalities have been popping up on our TV screens of late. There’s Oxygen’s hit series The Prancing Elites Project, which follows a predominately gay African-American dance troupe. Joining the dancers are the casts of E!’s I Am Cait and TLC’s I Am Jazz, not to mention Freeform’s Becoming Us and Amiyah Scott’s appearance on the Real Housewives of Atlanta.

In the non-reality world, CBS’s Doubt made headlines as the first series to feature a trans lead played by a trans actor (Laverne Cox). Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black and Amazon’s Transparent certainly helped pave the way. Of course, these shows are but a blip in the grand scheme of what’s on the air, but let’s hope the trend continues to snowball.

[ via Variety ]