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Gender Block: Pina Newman, model and trans* activist

Hillary Di Menna


Photo from The Transgender Project

Photo from The Transgender Project

A fashion model fighting for trans* rights, Pina Newman is making sure she is heard, while inspiring others to find their own voices. Maxing out the time in her jam-packed schedule, Newman is involved with the Trans Collective, a group of trans* identified people at Ryerson University, “We are advocating for more single-stalled and gender-neutral washrooms as there are too few on campus and they are often spread out,” she says as an example of what the collective does. “Additionally we are going to be impressing the importance of education for professors with regards to trans* issues and being trans* inclusive.”

Newman is also working on Ichannel’s The Transgender Project, and takes every speaking engagement that comes her way, like ImpactU, an event hosted by Ryerson’s Equity Services, facilitating discussions about equity issues on campus.

“I feel very fortunate to have been given these opportunities. I feel inspired to keep going because I have been heard in the previous times I have spoken,” she says. “I am fully immersed in trans* issues and therefore I have gained a lot of specialized knowledge and personal experiences in these areas. This is something I feel is important to share among those who haven’t shared the life I have had.”

Through sharing her stories many have reached out to the activist, keeping Newman going now that she’s found her own confidence, and she wants to make sure everyone else can feel comfortable doing what they want to do.

Newman’s modeling portfolio includes shots by photographers such as Danilo Ursini, which can be found on the Vogue Italia website: “He was the first photographer I worked with here in Toronto,” she says. “,He is absolutely incredible and talented beyond belief.” Newman loves to shoot creative projects, and hopes to do more, once there are a few more hours in a day.

Newman’s trans* rights work keeps her busy, but she has been thinking of finding a modeling agency, getting more acting work, walking in Toronto Fashion Week (she has a blast being involved with Fashion Art Toronto), getting more involved with her university (where she is studying to become a nurse) and speaking at the Philly Trans Health Conference.

A former This intern, Hillary Di Menna is in her second year of the gender and women’s studies program at York University. She also maintains an online feminist resource directory, FIRE- Feminist Internet Resource Exchange.

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