"Being a woman means everything to me," Carmen Carrera stated this year. "Before my transition I felt trapped, and now I've been set free."
She rose to attention as a finalist on RuPaul's Drag Race, but soon after the show wrapped, Carrera publicly announced she was a trans woman and changed the rule book for many of the performers on the reality competition, signing a deal with Elite Model Management. Then, after she appeared in a fashion editorial lensed by Stephen Meisel for W, Carrera was the subject of a petition initiated by her fans to ask the lingerie brand Victoria's Secret to book her as their first trans model. It ultimately was unsuccessful but it catapulted her to many designers' attention.
When she and trans actress Laverne Cox sat down with Katie Couric earlier this year, they defended themselves against the fact that Couric only seemed interested in discussing their genitalia. Cox ended up on the cover of Time magazine. And Carrera posed for a controversial poster by David LaChapelle for Austria's Life Ball.
Since then, Vh1 announced that it's developing a docu-reality series, TransAmerica, to chronicle the lives of a group of trans women living in Chicago. The Tyra Banks-produced series will follow these women through the ups and downs of dating, family life and career ambitions. Carmen Carrera is set to be one of the five featured cast members as she pursues her dreams of being a supermodel. No matter what, in the year that saw trans visibility raised to new heights, Carrera has become an outspoken advocate for trans women around the globe.
VOTE for 2014 Out100 Readers' Choice Award Winner. Presented by Buick.