Beauty influencer Victoria Volkova has broken new ground as the first transgender woman to appear on the cover of Playboy Mexico.
“Playboy Mexico is committed to the openness and diversity for which we fight daily in this country,” the magazine wrote in Spanish on Instagram. “The brand has historically been singled out because pleasure is a benefit to all people, regardless of gender, sexual orientation or race.”
Volkova, 27, was born in the state of Querétaro in central Mexico. With more than 900,000 followers on Instagram, she has become an outspoken advocate for the LGBTQ community in her country.
"This cover celebrates the different ways of being a woman, the different ways of being beautiful, the different ways in which one can explore their sensuality and enjoy the process," she said in a post announcing the cover.
Volkova said she hopes her pictorial makes people more curious about what being trans means — "more curious about how trans people live in this country and in the world and what we have to go through to live a dignified life."
She has amassed more than 1.2 million subscribers on YouTube, where she posts makeup tutorials and chats with the Brazilian drag queen Pabllo Vittar and others. She also speaks openly about her transition and her journey to self-acceptance.
"For a long time I hated my body and hated being a trans woman, since I thought that that was what made me a less valuable person, less deserving of love, less 'normal,'" Volkova wrote in Spanish on Instagram.
Eventually, she said, she realized she had to accept herself before she could expect anyone else to.
"Embrace your imperfections and tell them thank you for making you so unique and so different," she said. When you do, "you learn that your biggest difference, why people teased you at school, is what years later will make you stand out from the rest."
Spencer Harvey, a spokesperson for the LGBTQ advocacy organization GLAAD, praised Volkova for "breaking barriers for transgender women in the world of fashion and modeling."
She joins Roberta Close, Caroline "Tula" Cossey, Giuliana Farfalla and Geena Rocero as transgender women who have appeared in various editions of Playboy. In November 2017, the French model Ines Rau became the first openly trans Playboy Playmate.
"The femininity and womanhood of transgender women is always being brought into question," said Rocero, a 2020 Playmate of the Year. "Appearing in Playboy says we're enough, that we get to own our sexuality and our self-expression."
Appearing in Playboy Mexico is particularly meaningful, Rocero said, as the country has the second highest rate of murders of trans women after Brazil. "It could literally save lives," she said.
Next year, Volkova will add actress to her résumé with the release of a sequel to "Sexo, pudor y lágrimas" ("Sex, Shame & Tears"), a 1999 dramedy that remains Mexico's highest-grossing film.
"I never studied for this or pursued a career in acting ... but I think when stuff like this comes to you, you have to say yes and let it flow," she said in a YouTube tutorial, PopSugar reported. "The worst thing that can happen is that it's not perfect the first time — and then you just learn how to do it."