According to Laith Ashley’s Instagram profile, he’s all about “trying to become the best and the truest version of myself,” and “sharing light and positivity with all my kings and queens.”
When he isn’t posing for the camera, the 26-year-old works at New York’s Callen-Lorde Community Health Center.
Now, he’s found success on the runway, recently featuring prominently in shows for Adrian Alicea and Gypsy Sport during New York Fashion Week.
On top of that, his handsomeness was on full display in a Barneys photo shoot (pictured), which was snapped by the legendary Bruce Weber.
Ashley only began his transition a few years ago, but realized there was a “misalignment” in his body when he was about five.
“Being a model now is definitely exciting,” he tells Pink News. “I’m always shocked when I’m walking to the gym or going to the store and people recognize me. It makes me feel good, but it can be a bit of shock.”
“New York Fashion Week was fun — it’s funny as I never intended to get into modelling.”
“It just happened,” he admits. “Everything happens for a reason and I’m really excited to see where it goes from here.”
Discussing coming out to his parents, he says, “At the time I didn’t know what transgender was, so I just told them I had a girlfriend. But I never felt right with the idea of being a lesbian woman.”
His mom is a Pentecostal Christian, so it was Ashley’s father who proved to be more accepting.
“My dad was fine. I told him that if he is proud of me, it takes away the power of people who criticize. Who cares what other people think, if he is proud?”
After coming out, it took him six years to start the medical transition.
“Once I got over that fear, there was no stopping me. I am the most comfortable I have ever been.”
His 60,000 Instagram followers include fans like Laverne Cox and Whoopi Goldberg.
It’s been a period of feeling “very overwhelmed”.
“I know many look up to me, because I may fit the image they wish to achieve, which I find incredibly humbling,” he says.
“But I want them to also know that their life journey is their own. People should be true to themselves — they don’t have to fit a box.”