Icon Of Change! Hari Nef's ELLE UK September Cover

'In an ideal world, I wouldn't have to change my body. I wouldn't have to do all this stuff. I wouldn't have to be pretty, or "feminine" and people would respect that'

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Model, actress, and trans activist Hari Nef, 23, is one of ELLE's five cover stars of the September 2016 issue (on sale next week).

In her first ever UK cover, and most honest interview yet, Hari talks about her childhood, dating men, and why her gender is not the most interesting thing about her.

Having become increasingly successful this year Hari walked for Gucci at Milan Fashion Week, had a role on TV show Transparent, is the new face of cult label Mansur Gavriel, and is signed with one of the fashion industry's biggest agencies, IMG Models (the first trans model to do so). She's also graduated from Columbia University where she studied drama, and is trying to make her way as an actress in New York.

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On her body: 'If my body can fall into the background for just a second, maybe people will start listening to what I have to say.'

On aiming for neutrality: 'In an ideal world, I wouldn't have to change my body. I wouldn't have to do all this stuff. I wouldn't have to be pretty, or "feminine" and people would respect that'

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On dating straight men: 'At first gay men were all I ever knew how to be attracted to. Now I'm seeing straight men regularly for the first time in my life…I prefer men who are queer. Not gay men, but queer men – guys with an open mind. Bisexual men, because they're able to understand the different elements of the body without judging that I don't conform to a certain ideal.'

On Caitlyn Jenner: 'The question I have for Caitlyn is what does being a woman mean to you? I don't feel that my politics are separable from my femininity, so dear Caitlyn, from where do you source your femininity? As a woman, who is your community of women? Are the women from low income houses who are disenfranchised by Republican politics – are those women your women? Are the women who have ovaries and wombs and who can't get access to essential reproductive healthcare – are those women your women? Are the immigrant women who would get deported under a Republican administration – are those your women?'

On her catwalk moment for Gucci: 'Alessandro [Michele, Gucci's Creative Director] put me in a look that I felt very safe in [a giant red cape] and I felt protected, cocooned, and powerful. It deleted my body in a way that I like with clothes.'

The September issue will be available on newsstands from 3 August. 

Interview Emma Brockes Photography Bjarne Jonasson Styling Joanne Blades Clothes All Gucci

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