Munroe Bergdorf

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Munroe Bergdorf
Born (1987-09-11) 11 September 1987 (age 32)

Munroe Bergdorf (née Beaumont; born 11 September 1987) is a British model and activist who has walked several catwalks for brands including Gypsy Sport at both London and NYC Fashion Weeks. Bergdorf was the first transgender model in the UK for L'Oréal, but was dropped within weeks after a racial row. She went on to front a Channel 4 documentary, What Makes A Woman which aired in May 2018. In February 2018, she was appointed as an LGBT adviser to the Labour Party, but resigned the following month citing tabloid pressure.

Early life[edit]

Bergdorf was born and grew up in Stansted Mountfitchet, Essex.[1][2] Bergdorf is mixed-race, born to an Afro-Jamaican father and a white English mother.[3][2] Bergdorf attended Bentfield County Primary school in Stansted Mountfitchet and then Bishop's Stortford High School, an all-boys school. Bergdorf describes growing up as a "very effeminate boy". Later, she studied English at the University of Brighton, describing herself there as genderqueer.[2]

Bergdorf then worked for three years in fashion PR. At the age of 24, Bergdorf began gender transitioning,[2] and was the subject of an episode of London Live show Drag Queens of London.[1][4]

Around the same time that Bergdorf was transitioning, she co-founded a club night called Pussy Palace.[4]


She got involved in modelling, stating that she was motivated by the lack of representation of "non-whites" in the industry. Her first modelling job was for a Lebanese couture company.[2] In 2014, the London Evening Standard referred to her as "a cornerstone of London's trans scene."[1] She told the newspaper that she was "so vocal" on trans issues because she sees it as "the new frontier", an issue being brought into public consciousness through the work of trans women like Laverne Cox and Carmen Carrera.[1]

She came to public attention in August 2017 when she was employed as the first transgender model to front a L'Oréal campaign in the UK, being announced as one of 27 models taking part in L'Oréal UK's "True Match" campaign.[5][6] On her social media, she stated: "Thank you L’Oréal Paris for giving me this platform. I hope it reaches another little eight-year-old trans girl and makes her feel a little more hopeful and a little less scared about her future, than what was installed in me when I was her age."[6] Elsewhere she stated: "I definitely set out to empower girls like me."[5]

Racial controversy[edit]

In February 2018, Bergdorf claimed that 'white people as a group are brought up racist', stating: "most of y’all don’t even realise or refuse to acknowledge that your existence, privilege and success as a race is built on the backs, blood and death of people of colour."[7] Bergdorf attracted further public attention following an article in The Daily Mail highlighting Facebook comments that she had made, which included the claim that all white people were guilty of "racial violence" and that the white race was "the most violent and oppressive force of nature on Earth." In response to Bergdorf's comments, L'Oréal dropped her from their campaign on 1 September 2017.[8][9][10][6] They issued a statement that the company "supports diversity and tolerance towards all people irrespective of their race, background, gender and religion" and that Bergdorf's comments about white people were "at odds with those values".[8] Facebook removed her posts from their website, regarding them as being in contravention to its rules against hate speech. Bergdorf said she also faced online harassment, much of it of a racist and transphobic nature. Other commentators argued that The Daily Mail had quoted her out of context, and that her wider point about white supremacy and white privilege in Western societies was valid and needed wider dissemination. Bergdorf defended her position, arguing that she was angry after the scenes in the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville and wanted to explain that racism was systemic, and that being racist was not just about attacking people, but failing to take action against the system. She added: "I don't see how calling out the roots of racism, somehow makes you a racist", calling the controversy the "worst time of my life".[11]

Modelling after controversy[edit]

In September 2017, the UK-based Illamasqua hired Bergdorf as the face of its Beauty Spotlight campaign, which concerned gender fluidity.[12][13] In a statement, the company described Bergdorf as embodying "diversity and individuality; she is not scared to be truly herself."[12] It added that it did not "stand or accept any form of racism, but we also believe Munroe’s comments have been edited out of context by a certain media title (who we won't bother naming) without telling a true story".[13]

Other activities[edit]

The same month she was hired by Illamasqua, Bergdorf gave a verbal performance of Maya Angelou's poem "Still I Rise" for a short film directed by Bec Evans and Laura Kirwan-Ashman.[14]

In February 2018, she was appointed as an LGBT adviser to the Labour Party, which she resigned from the following month.[11] Bergdorf later blamed "Conservative media" for using her as a "political pawn to bring down Jeremy Corbyn" and that the Labour LGBT advisory board was being targeted to be shut down, stating "when I left they went after somebody else, and then when that person left they went after somebody else" in order to "discredit Jeremy Corbyn".[15]

As of April 2019, she has made frequent appearances as a guest commentator on ITV's Good Morning Britain and This Morning.

In June 2019, Bergdorf was stripped of her role as an ambassador for Childline two days after being appointed, when journalist Janice Turner and others questioned her suitability for the post as somebody who had modelled for adult magazine Playboy.[16][17] Several days later, the NSPCC offered Bergdorf a 'full, frank and unreserved apology' for the way in which it had handled her dismissal. The NSPCC's CEO, Peter Wanless, explained that Bergdorf had been dismissed 'because of her public statements, which we felt would mean that she was in breach of our own risk assessments and undermine what we are here to do'.[18]

In July 2019, Bergdorf was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Brighton in recognition of her campaigning for transgender rights. [19]


  1. ^ a b c d Lucy Tobin (5 June 2014). "Munroe Bergdorf: 'People wouldn't go over to someone's mother and ask about their labia but they're happy to come over to a trans person and ask about their genitals'". The London Evening Standard. Retrieved 20 September 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e Nosheen Iqbal (4 September 2017). "Munroe Bergdorf on the L'Oréal racism row: 'It puzzles me that my views are considered extreme'". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 February 2018.
  3. ^ Yasmin Alibhai-Brown (8 September 2017). "Munroe Bergdorf is abused while Jacob Rees-Mogg is lauded - only straight white men have free speech". International Business Times. Retrieved 27 February 2018.
  4. ^ a b Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff (1 September 2017). "L'Oréal's firing of Munroe Bergdorf shows brands want our brown skin but not our blackness". New Statesman. Retrieved 27 February 2018.
  5. ^ a b Joe Morgan (30 August 2017). "Munroe Bergdorf becomes first trans woman to star in L'Oréal UK campaign". Gay Star News. Retrieved 27 February 2018.
  6. ^ a b c Husna Rizvi (30 August 2017). "Transgender model becomes face of L'Oréal". Pink News. Retrieved 27 February 2018.
  7. ^ Arj Singh (27 February 2018). "Munroe Bergdorf: Model who said 'all white people' are racist appointed to LGBT+ board by Labour MP". The Independent. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  8. ^ a b "L'Oreal sacks first transgender model Munroe Bergdorf". BBC News. 1 September 2017. Retrieved 27 February 2018.
  9. ^ Patrick Grafton-Green (1 September 2017). "L'Oreal sacks first transgender model Munroe Bergdorf after 'all white people are racist' Facebook rant". The London Evening Standard. Retrieved 27 February 2018.
  10. ^ Joel Backaler, Digital Influence (2018, ISBN 3319783963), page 139
  11. ^ a b Anushka Asthana (27 February 2018). "Trans model Munroe Bergdorf to advise Labour on LGBT issues". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 February 2018.
  12. ^ a b Humairah Adam and Morwenna Ferrier (14 September 2017). "Model fired by L'Oreal for remarks on racism will be face of rival campaign". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 September 2017.
  13. ^ a b Sarah Young (14 September 2017). "Munroe Bergdorf hired by Illamasqua after she was sacked by L'Oréal for Racism Remarks". The Independent. Retrieved 27 February 2018.
  14. ^ Rose Dommu (17 September 2017). "Munroe Bergdorf Perform's Maya Angelou's 'Still I Rise'". Out. Retrieved 20 September 2017.
  15. ^ "Trans activist on 'hairy lesbian' tweets". Sky News. 15 May 2018. Retrieved 15 May 2018.
  16. ^ Moore, Matt (9 June 2019). "Munroe Bergdorft dropped as childline ambassador following transphobic hate campaign".
  17. ^ Petter, Olivia (9 June 2019). "Munroe Bergdorf accuses NSPCC of 'bowing to pressure from transphobic hate campaign' as she is dropped from Childline".
  18. ^ Perraudin, Frances (2019-06-12). "NSPCC apologises over decision to cut ties with trans activist". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-06-12.
  19. ^