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Tuesday, May 21, 2024
<p>The first transgender contestant to compete on “America's Next Top Model,” Isis King, spoke Wednesday night at Emerson Alumni Hall. The event was put on by Pride Student Union.</p>

The first transgender contestant to compete on “America's Next Top Model,” Isis King, spoke Wednesday night at Emerson Alumni Hall. The event was put on by Pride Student Union.

Sleek and confident, Isis King was met by loud cheers as the former “America’s Next Top Model” contestant turned the conference room into a runway.

King, who was the first transgender woman to compete on the show, spoke to about 120 people on Transgender Day of Remembrance and offered her life’s story in encouragement Wednesday night.

After holding a moment of silence for the transgender community, she began by showing a clip from “Born in the Wrong Body,” a 2007 MSNBC documentary that featured her story of transitioning from a male to a female.

King, 28, said from a young age, she had an indescribable feeling about her gender.

“I knew I was different,” she said. “I knew I was a little girl.”

At 21, King said, she began the transition process, and in 2008, she became a contestant for the 11th cycle of “America’s Next Top Model.”

“I was completely scared,” she said. “So many people said so many negative and scary things.”

In 2011, King entered the show again for the 17th cycle.

She now works as a freelance fashion designer, model and speaker and lives in New York City.

“You can’t allow others to dictate who you are or who you are going to be,” she said.

Collin Vernay, the director of programming in Pride Student Union’s internal cabinet, said King was given $4,000 to speak.

The 20-year-old UF psychology and sociology junior said King’s talk was part of Trans* Days, a three-day campaign to raise awareness and educate students about the community.

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Jennifer Heard, a 32-year-old UF alumna, said she went to see King because she thinks it is beneficial to transgender individuals.

“I think that speaking up and showing support for the transgender community is important to me,” she said.

King said at the start of the process, her family was not supportive and would not call her by her chosen name.

But today, she said, her family calls her Isis.

“I am not a transgender female,” she said. “I’m a woman.”

A version of this story ran on page 5 on 11/21/2013 under the headline "Isis King spreads transgender awareness"

The first transgender contestant to compete on “America's Next Top Model,” Isis King, spoke Wednesday night at Emerson Alumni Hall. The event was put on by Pride Student Union.

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