Genderqueer model Rain Dove doesn’t care if you think she’s a man or a woman

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Rain sees herself as an activist, in a way, because she’s hoping to change the perception of models, just by being one herself.

“I think it’s a different kind of activism. Like, women shouldn’t have to step into men’s roles to be empowered. They should be able to step into themselves,” she said. “So that’s what I try to bring, that we shouldn’t be thinking of it as menswear or womenswear it should be clothing for people. And that is geared towards anatomical values but isn’t exclusive.”

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In an industry that appears to be increasingly queer friendly, Rain said that the most recent androgyny trend doesn’t mean there are necessarily more accepting attitudes for genderbending in every day style. Not all of the women who model that kind of aesthetic dress that way in real life, nor are they all queer-identified. Rain said that because she does, and is, it could work to her advantage, even when she’s up against the men.

“In certain ways for menswear I can probably pose stronger than some men who are more effeminate in nature,” Rain said. “Because men in the modeling world are flamboyant. I’m kind of the opposite: I’m a butchy lesbian. I’m not super butch but definitely compared to some of these guys, so the study of the ultra male has leant itself for me to be successful in the fashion world. During yahoo fashion week they had top five men trends and they had floral patterned jackets and I was the number one look for the mens. They didn’t know I wasn’t a man and I didn’t announce it, and that’s OK—it’s better that way. It’s much better that way. Because men who look at that photo and think I would look great in that will see that the gender has nothing to do with it, just the clothing.”

This January, Rain is part of a new Oxygen TV series that will follow the lives of women who live “alternative lifestyles.” In her episode, Rain said she’s followed around from her different jobs—including catering and construction companies where they think she’s a guy, to nannying and cocktail waitressing—but has a slight breakdown when they are on set with her on a lingerie shoot.

“They filmed one scene with a lingerie photo shoot and I did have a meltdown with the guy who wanted to make this whole body expression like someone was about to jizz in my face,” Rain said. “I was so mad at him. Why can’t I just be comfortable in lingerie? Why can’t I just sit on the couch and cheer for my favorite football team with a cigar and a cup of brandy? We don’t live in a world where we have to do that anymore. We can buy it because we like it, and it feels good. He disagreed with me. There were tears, half a weave was on the floor. You’ll see a whole scene there.”

Rain is also pursuing acting, as she has a role in the web series Dyke Central and is living between New York and California for the time being. She hopes that her being more visible in any capacity can help those who might not feel as confident in their gender-bending, like she was teased for as a kid.

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“You know, I think you just have to realize it’s about your personal needs from society,” she said. “If you really feel that boxing yourself as a gender type is so important for you, and that is the thing that will make you happy in every day life—I understand that’s difficult, but jut because someone else said you’re one thing, doesn’t make that your definition. So your personal definition is the only definition that matters in your life.”

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