Ari South becomes ‘Project Runway’s’ 1st transgender designer

Ari South - Before & After

“Project Runway” fans first met Ari South in 2010, when she appeared on the eighth season of the show as man named Andy South. Now, three years later, South has come out as transgender and now lives as a woman named Ari. With this new change in her life came the second chance of a lifetime as South recently joined the cast of “Project Runway: All Stars,” making her the first transgender contestant on the show.

In a recent interview with Huffington Post, South discussed coming out as transgender in the fashion world.

“There were a lot of questions that I had to think about before I made the decision to make it public. But I think, fortunately, the fashion industry is so welcoming of people who fall in very different points of this grey area in the LGBT community,” said South. “It hasn’t been as bad as it could have been and I’m also based in Hawaii and generally I feel a lot more comfortable to be here -– it’s part of the culture and the respect is upheld.”

South also revealed that she actually began transitioning before her initial “Project Runway” appearance but stopped shortly before the eighth season began.

I stopped probably a month before I was cast, so I didn’t stop intentionally just because I knew I was going to New York to compete –- it was a series of events that happened in my life,” said South, adding that she felt regret over transitioning so soon. “I honestly regretted it at the time because I thought that was one thing I felt like I shouldn’t have done because I had gone back and tried to reverse everything that I did and I couldn’t completely reverse everything.”

After South’s original “PR” season aired, she took time to seriously think about transitioning and eventually came to the conclusion that she needed to live her life as a woman.

“It was a realization as to what I needed to do for me to be completely happy internally so I could maximize what I could do externally surrounding my personal choices and gender identity,” South said.

Now that South is living proudly as a trans woman, she felt confident taking advantage of the opportunity to represent the trans community in a competitive reality show.

Honestly, it’s an honor -– I saw it as an honor to be invited back. And it wasn’t about going back and being that trans role model, but it was about being someone from the community that was represented in the context of a competition like “Project Runway,” which I feel needs to happen.

Sadly, South was eliminated from last night’s premiere episode, but we commend her anyway for becoming another trans role model and star. Check out some other trans reality TV stars below. – nnicholas robinson

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