Transgendered TV model speaks at ULS

Former America’s Next Top Model contestant Isis King opened her discussion to students Tuesday with two questions: “What is sexuality? What is gender?”

King, who was the first Top Model contestant not born physically female, discussed her life story at the fourth University Lecture Series (ULS) of the semester.

“I’m a regular person. (Transgendered people) are regular people,” King said. “I want to be recognized as just a woman – not a transgendered woman.

King competed in the televised modeling competition, hosted by former model Tyra Banks, in the spring of 2008.

King said she first realized her attraction toward boys when she was in kindergarten.

“I’m not sure where it came from, what made me attracted to guys, but I knew that’s who I was, that’s who I was attracted to,” King said.

In middle school, King said she began to identify with girls and would date the ones she envisioned herself to be. Around that time, King said she was introduced to the idea of being a transgendered person while watching an episode of the talk show “Maury.”

When she was in high school, King “came out” as a homosexual man. She began transitioning into a woman by taking hormones in the summer of 2006.

King was featured in an MSNBC documentary “Born in the Wrong Body: On the Edge” in 2007, before she competed on America’s Next Top Model.

After appearing as a guest on Banks’ talk show, King said the talk show host and a plastic surgeon funded her gender reassignment surgery, which was on Feb. 27.

“After the surgery, emotionally, I didn’t really feel (a change),” King said. “I thought I would, but because I already knew who I was, it didn’t affect me.”

Jah Forman, a sophomore majoring in international business, was among the 214 attendees at Tuesday’s event in the Marshall Student Center Oval Theater.

Forman asked King during a question-and-answer session about the typical reaction she receives when she tells people she is transgendered.

“Not telling somebody is a dangerous thing. So that was never the direction that I wanted to go,” King said. “I always wanted the guy I was with to view me as a woman, but I wanted him to know about my past.”

Another student asked which was easier for King – being a homosexual man or a transgendered woman.

“Living my life as a gay male was easier. There are way more people you can relate to, not just in general but in the media as well,” King said. “For my transition, I had to do it by myself. I had no one to look up to.”