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'Hustlers' Star Trace Lysette On Body Image And Beauty Standards

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Former Plus cover star, Trace Lysette, has never been one to hide from the spotlight. Since her groundbreaking role as Shea, an HIV-positive yoga instructor, in Amazon’s Transparent, Lysette has skyrocketed to fame and has since become one of the most visible trans actresses in Hollywood. But her confidence didn’t come without upheavals.

“Growing up as a little boy, it was never an issue to have my shirt off as a kid. It was just part of being assigned male,” Lysette penned in the latest issue of Women’s Health. “But once I became a woman in my teens, all of a sudden it was illegal to show the exact same nipple." 

Posing nude in a beautiful spread, Lysette opened up about what it was like growing up in Ohio and the constraints placed on women’s bodies in the entertainment industry.

The star found her home in the queer community of Dayton, Ohio. First in the drag bars, and later in the ball scene of New York City. As she previously told Plus in a November 2017 cover story, “I was a performer [in Dayton] as a teen and had a fake ID. My chosen family kind of validated me throughout the years and let me know that I was special, and particularly in the New York-hosted ballroom subculture, the voguing subculture. I found a chosen family there where I was being celebrated for being feminine, and everything I had always been put down for… that validation really carried me through.”

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“Trans women, and women in general, have so many constraints placed on our bodies,” she explained to Women’s Health. “As women, we are told not to show our bodies, and as trans people, we've been told not to exist. There is something so liberating and beautiful about being naked on your own terms… My body has carried me a long way and has had many evolutions. I honor it, flaws and all.”

By the time she started working in Hollywood, she had already been through hell and back with her body, particularly being sexualized and working in the sex industry.

“I didn't expect that type of trauma to carry over into Hollywood, but looking back, maybe I was just being naive,” Lysette writes. “After everything went down, I felt this deep sorrow for myself and for my body. This vessel did not deserve to be sexualized in that way. Sadness came through me, but I also found strength in speaking out. I didn't want to look back in 10 years and think that I didn't do the right thing.”

Now she is starring in Hustlers, alongside Jennifer Lopez, Cardi B, and Constance Wu. The film tells the story about a group of strippers who are conning their clients. When the actress found out about the film, Lysette sent out a tweet that said: "I danced at SCORES in NYC (the club that this movie is about) for 8+ yrs... I cannot wait for this film and I would absolutely LOVE to be part of it somehow, someway.”

She tagged writer/director Lorene Scafaria and the two eventually had lunch where they “hit it off" and she landed a role in the film. 

“Trans women should be accepted and celebrated, whether they look a little bit more on the masculine side of the spectrum or they're the femme of all fems,” she writes for Women’s Health. “Speaking about our journeys can sometimes be a roadmap for other people who haven't quite figured it out yet. I'm always trying to look beyond my own experiences and think, ‘How can I help someone else?’”

Tags: Stigma, People

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