Transgender model Andreja Pejic has launched a Kickstarter campaign in the hopes of funding Andrej(a), a documentary about her extraordinary transformation from an androgynous-leaning male to full-fledged female.
The 23-year-old icy blonde chose to go public with the news of her sexual reassignment surgery earlier this year, and now reveals it was against the advice of her agents. It’s still too soon, she says, to tell whether her career will suffer as a result.
‘I hope that by sharing my humanity, pain, tears, laughter, joy, and biggest struggles on film, it will shed light on what it means to live as a transgender individual,’ Miss Pejic says.
Miss Pejic and her filmmaker friend Michael Hirschorn have already been shooting footage for the documentary for two years, covering her last few photo shoots as a male model, her sexual reassignment surgery and her big reveal to the public. In order to film the next six months, the team is appealing for $200,000 in funding, and have so far raised $16,733, with 32 days left on the clock.
Miss Pejic – who rose to fame as an androgynous male model – is still unsure as to whether the fashion industry will accept her as a female, or whether much of her appeal will now be lost. This upcoming chapter, she says, will be crucial to the documentary.
A trailer for the film sees Miss Pejic look back upon her humble beginnings as a young boy growing up in a Serbian refugee camp, her family having been ‘torn apart’ by war. Miss Pejic later moved with her mother, with whom she is very close, to Australia; where she was discovered by a talent scout – true to cliché – working in McDonald’s. After New York Magazine put her, (then, him) on its cover in 2011 and crowned her ‘The Prettiest Boy in the World,’ Miss Pejic’s niche had seemingly been set in stone.
‘If she wanted to remain a success, she had to remain a boy,’ her Kickstarter campaign reads. ‘Her agents said it. The press said it. The world expected it. Most importantly, her family relied on it.’
Speaking to The New York Times last week, Miss Pejic said: ‘There are agents that would tell me: “Don’t ever do it. Don’t transition. You’ll lose everything”.’
But transition she did, and this weekend, Miss Peijic announced she had left her former agency, DNA, to join The Society – an all woman’s agency – as a solely female model. On Saturday, she posted her new photo card to her Instagram account with the caption: ‘New agency! New life!’
‘When I was little, I dreamed of being a girl. In fact that was my biggest dream,’ Miss Pejic says in a scene from her trailer, seemingly shortly before her life-changing surgery. ‘It’s a goal I’ve had my whole life. It’s all been kind of leading up to this.’
In a following photo, she is sprawled out on a hospital bed, hooked up to an I.V., and in one scene, she is hunched up in a hotel room weeping, and muttering: ‘I really miss my mom.’
In another, Miss Pejic dives into her agonizing decision as to whether or not to tell people, her agent included, about her transition post surgery.
‘We live in a world that doesn’t like, trust, or respect transgender people,’ she says. ‘It felt like there were two options for me.
‘I could transition, forget about my past, hide it, live in fear. Or I could be proud, share my story with the world and hope that it does some good.’
Ultimately, it was Mr Hirschorn who convinced Miss Pejic to not only tell her agent and her business associates, but to tell the whole world her story.
‘This is a powerful part of an immensely courageous journey, we need to film this!’ she recalls him telling her. ‘You know how many trans people – and people in general – are out there hiding, forced to live as someone they are not? You could give them hope by going public about this.’
Miss Pejic claims to have turned down offers from ‘large global networks,’ eager to swoop in on her story, but has opted to go down the road of independent film making instead, so as to ‘maintain creative control.’
She insists that she and her team are contributing their own money to finish the documentary, but can’t afford to cover the full costs.
Miss Pejic is offering a variety of rewards for healthy donations, including signed merchandise, a Google Hangout with herself; or, for pledges of $10,000 or more, tickets to attend a show with her at London Fashion Week.
Whether Miss Pejic will appear in any of the shows herself, at this week’s New York Fashion Week or in London, Paris or Milan, is a question left hanging.
If all goes ahead with the documentary however, these are the sorts of answers we can expect to have answered in intimate detail as the next chapter of her life unfolds.