Who Is Ines Rau? Unpacking the Transgender Model’s Groundbreaking Career & Personal Journey

Ines Rau, known as France’s most famous transgendered model, has not only broken ground in the fashion industry for her modeling career, but she’s also an outspoken advocate for transgender rights. 

Her personal journey of gender change and string of high-profile relationships have landed her in the public limelight.

Background On Ines Rau’s Algerian Heritage

Ines Rau was born in 1990 in Paris, France to Algerian parents who had immigrated to France before she was born. Rau has been vocal about facing discrimination growing up as the daughter of Algerian Muslim immigrants.

“It was tough for my parents to meet society’s expectations, just coming to Europe,” Rau stated in a 2017 interview. “We endured discrimination and prejudice.

Rau has also spoken publicly about having a complex relationship with her Algerian roots:

A part of me has the obligations of following the Muslim rules, which I don’t always do,” she said.

Nonetheless, Rau remains proud of her Algerian heritage despite the struggles she faced. She has mentioned dreams of perhaps visiting Algeria someday, though she has yet to make the trip.

Rau’s Gender Transition & Affirmation Surgery

By her own account, Rau identified as transgender from a “very young age.” As early as puberty, she grappled with gender dysphoria and questions about her identity. 

The fashion icon has stated she felt “trapped in the wrong body” throughout much of her adolescence.

As a teenager she began seeing medical specialists about her gender identity concerns. Under medical supervision, she started taking female hormones, which began the process of bodily transformation towards womanhood.

Finally in her early 20s in 2013-2014, Rau underwent gender-affirmation surgery to further her transition. The complex, painful set of procedures provided long-awaited physical alignment with her female gender.

Rau has been outspoken about her choice to transition, including sharing a detailed public post about her surgery and recovery on Instagram:

“I can’t believe how much I have changed in 10 year…I feel so blessed and grateful to have been able to live my truth…I am proud to be a transgender woman.”

Since completing her surgical transition, Rau has said she finally feels fully comfortable in her own skin – “at one” and her “most authentic self.” No longer forced to hid her identity or “fake being a boy,” Rau entered the next chapter of her life and career ready to shine as her true femme self.

Becoming Playboy’s 1st Openly Transgender Playmate

In 2017, Rau made headlines for posing nude in Playboy magazine wearing nothing but high heels, a rainbow pride flag and a string of beads. 

The artistic photos went viral almost instantly.

The tasteful spread was published in Playboy’s November 2017 issue, with Rau officially earning the title Playmate of the Month. 

This groundbreaking moment made Rau the first openly transgender Playmate in Playboy’s over 60-year publication history.

The magazine received praise for the bold, progressive move. And readers responded enthusiastically to seeing Rau’s undeniable beauty and confidence laid bare across the glossy pages.

Rau described the barrier-breaking shoot as feeling “strikingly comfortable in her own skin” and overjoyed to represent trans individuals in such an iconic institution. Her pride in her transgender identity shone brightly through the photographs.

The edition featuring Rau sold relatively well internationally. This seemed to further solidify that the world was ready for an openly transgendered Playmate – and catapulted Rau to global fame practically overnight.

Rau’s Rumored Romance With Football Phenom Kylian Mbappé

Rau's Rumored Romance With Football Phenom Kylian Mbappé

In 2019, Rau generated headlines again – this time for her rumored romance with French professional football player Kylian Mbappé.

Mbappé, then 20, had recently won FIFA’s “Best Young Player” award for his breakout 2018 World Cup performance leading France to victory. At just 19, the handsome athlete became both the youngest player to score in a World Cup final game and the second teenager ever to win the tournament.

So when Mbappé was spotted getting flirty with 31-year-old transgender icon Rau, it whipped up a media storm.

The two made waves when photographed dancing, kissing on the lips, and generally quite cozy at a VIP party during the prestigious 2019 Cannes Film Festival.

Tabloids pounced on the steamy shots. Despite little being publicly confirmed, rumors swirled that Rau and Mbappé were dating.

A French transgender icon possibly romancing a beloved French national football hero enthralled the public imagination. Fans seemed both shocked and captivated by the unlikely pairing.

While neither expressly confirmed nor denied the dating rumors, Rau later suggested she preferred not to discuss her and Mbappé’s relationship or personal life.

Nonetheless, the gossip continued for months on end. The intrigue remains years later, though it seems the fling was temporary if it occurred at all.

Rau’s Ongoing Advocacy for Transgender Rights

Rau's Ongoing Advocacy for Transgender Rights

Beyond her photo shoots and high-profile relationships, Ines Rau has become an outspoken advocate for transgender rights.

She has used her platform to actively campaign for legal protections, healthcare access, and cultural acceptance for trans people globally. Rau also serves as an ambassador and regularly hosts fundraisers for The Trevor Project, an LGBTQ youth support organization.

Rau hopes that her modeling success helps move the needle towards greater acceptance and representation of trans individuals across industries:

I lived so long not loving myself that now I deserve to reclaim my life…I want my story to empower transgender people to know they can be who they are without hiding.

Through speaking engagements, op-eds, social media presence and partnerships with LGBTQ nonprofits, Rau continually leverages her celebrity to further equal rights.

She also stresses the dire importance of increased diversity and inclusion in the fashion and media worlds:

When transgender people like myself are empowered to live more authentically without facing discrimination, it directly impacts acceptance everywhere.

In 2022, Rau’s advocacy work was recognized by receiving the prestigious DivaUN Humanitarian Award. She accepted the honor with a stirring speech about her dreams for the future.

Where To Follow Ines On Social Media

Those interested in keeping up with Ines Rau’s modeling work and advocacy can follow her on social media channels:

  • Instagram: @supa_ines (1.3M followers)
  • Facebook Page: Ines Rau Model

She regularly updates these accounts and engages heavily with her large, devoted fan base.

Rau also generously provides behind-the-scenes looks at photoshoots, events appearances, speaking engagements, and life in general via Instagram stories and posts.

Over the years beyond Playboy, the French model continues gracing major fashion magazine covers like Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Elle and more while walking runways around the globe.

As she inspires and captivates millions worldwide, her social channels offer an inside look at this rising star’s latest endeavors across modeling, activism and life at large.


Ines Rau’s barrier-breaking modeling career, unapologetic transgender pride and fierce advocacy have rightfully earned her international acclaim.

Through magazine cover features, speaking engagements and her willingness to openly share personal experiences with gender transition, Rau has become an inspirational icon for trans communities while also winning broader public admiration.

And at just 32-years-old with seemingly limitless drive, Rau’s star seems likely to keep rapidly rising upwards in the years ahead. This exceptional woman has already accomplished enough to cement herself as a transgender trailblazer.

But by courageously continuing to smash stereotypes in fashion and fight for LGBTQ freedoms across spheres, the captivating, accomplished and compassionate Ines Rau may well end up nothing short of a legend.

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