Trans icon Caroline “Tula” Cossey talks about the late ‘Playboy’ owner

No one knew Caroline “Tula” Cossey was trans when she starred in the 1981 Bond film For Your Eyes Only and subsequently appeared in a Playboy cover shoot. When she was outed by a now-defunct UK tabloid News of the World, she was largely shunned by Hollywood. It was Hugh Hefner who gave her a second chance in the form of a 1991 cover spread, making her the first openly transgender woman to appear in the magazine.

Hefner died last Wednesday at the age of 91, and Cossey thanked the godfather of men’s magazines for giving her a platform to advocate for trans rights and visibility, NewNowNextreported. Her tweet read: “R.I.P Hugh Hefner 🙏 Thank you for allowing me to share my story and for your support and platform that helped my campaign for trans rights and visibility.”

It’s up for debate (and there is much debate) about how much exactly Hefner did for women’s rights and other social issues. To Cossey, who later retired from Hollywood due to a lack of multidimensional trans roles, he understood her mission. In a 2015 interview with Playboy, she had this to say:

I had done pinups and calendars and glamour shoots, but to be the first transsexual in Playboy, I felt absolutely honored. I remember being invited to the Mansion to meet Hugh Hefner. He looked into my eyes and I immediately knew he felt my story. He felt my cause. Playboy’s readership is mostly male and heterosexual, so it allowed me to get out there and prove that people like myself can be sexy and attractive.

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