As one of the fashion industry’s increasing numbers of a transgender models, Yasmine Petty has reached great success. Her sprawling penthouse in Lower Manhattan, with a terrace so large it has a pool and cabana, is full of magazines like Elle, W and Hercules that feature multiple-page spreads on her wearing clothing by brands like Marc Jacobs and Louis Vuitton.

Ms. Petty’s closet, too, is full of clothes she has modeled at international events like New York Fashion Week, fashion shows put on by Italian Vogue, and Life Ball, Europe’s prestigious charity gala to support people with H.I.V. She has walked the runway with stars like Naomi Campbell and Karolina Kurkova. The prominent makeup artist Pat McGrath used her as an “ambassador.”

At the beginning of her career Ms. Petty said she worked with several modeling agencies that found her work, but the experience left her feeling somewhat frustrated about the direction her career seemed to be taking.

Some agencies didn’t know whether to cast her as male or female, she said. Often she would walk into auditions not knowing which gender she was supposed to perform until she saw the other candidates waiting in the lobby. Other times she would be booked by clients, only to have them find out she was transgender later and refuse to use the photos. “The fashion industry didn’t know how to treat me,” she said.

Ms. Petty is now so established in her career that she doesn’t necessarily need a modeling agency to get new gigs. “I work freelance,” she said. But she now has an option for support: Trans Models, perhaps the city’s first agency to represent only transgender models.

“They are more familiar representing someone like themselves,” she said. “If they would have existed all along, it would have been completely different. I would have walked into a casting knowing I was being represented as myself, and I don’t have to hide or be afraid if the client finds out.”

Trans Models was started in March 2015 by Peche Di, a 27-year-old trans-female who wanted to advance her prospects as a model and help her community. She is working with both established talents like Ms. Petty and newer faces.

A few weeks after her agency opened, she booked a client, Laith Ashley, in a prominent spread in the magazine i-D. She landed the transgender plus-size model Shay Neary a major campaign with Coverstory, a fashion brand. She and two of her clients became the faces of New York City’s health campaign for protected sex. “We’re on buses,” Ms. Di said. “I get texts from my friends saying, ‘You’re on West Fourth Street.’”

It is no longer unusual, nor a matter of secrecy, to see transgender models on mainstream runways. At the most recent New York Fashion Week, Marc Jacobs employed three: Casil McArthur among the men, and Stav Strashko and Avie Acosta among the women. Vincent Beier walked for Coach and Proenza Schouler.

And while Trans Models may be the first firm of its kind in New York City, similar ones are popping up around the world.

Cecilio Asuncion, the director of “What’s the T,” a documentary that explored the lives of five transgender women, opened Slay Model Management in Los Angeles last year. Along with walking for New York Fashion Week and Los Angeles Fashion Week, his models have also modeled for Airbnb, Spiegel, even a Brazilian vodka company.

A year ago Mitr Trust, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender charity based in India, held auditions for the country’s first transgender modeling agency. As of the end of January, Britain also has its own agency based in Nottinghamshire, England, named Transgender Model U.K. In their first week of operation, they signed two models.

With the attention transgender personalities have received in the press and pop culture in recent years, it’s hard to imagine that transgender models are still at a disadvantage. But for many of them, transgender-only agencies are still the only groups that will represent them.

Ms. Di opened Trans Models after spending a decade trying to find an agency to sign her both in Bangkok, where she is from, and in New York. “They would accept a photo, but nothing would happen after,” she said. She said reality hit home after she won the transgender pageant Miss Asia New York and modeled for Bruce Weber’s “Brothers, Sisters, Sons and Daughters” campaign for Barneys, but still couldn’t persuade a firm to sign her.

Mr. Asuncion realized the plight of transgender models after filming his documentary. “I learned that what the community needed was employment,” he said. “I figured why not create a space for them?” Even Ms. Petty said she went to about 30 agencies looking for someone to book her at the beginning of her career. “I was turned down by all of them.”

Sara Ziff, the founder and executive director of the Model Alliance, a labor advocacy group for models working in the American fashion industry, said this didn’t surprise her. “For years the talent pool has been predominantly young, white, tall, thin and female,” Ms. Ziff said. “While the industry is slowly evolving and becoming more inclusive, it’s difficult for people who don’t fit the mold to break in.”

Over 300 models have applied to be part of Trans Models; Ms. Di has chosen 19 so far and gets new applicants almost every day. Slay Model management represents 17 models. But while the agencies are popular in this community, it’s unclear how much they really can do for clients.

Opportunities for transgender models can be limited, Ms. Di said: “It’s still a struggle for our agency to find consistent, paid work for models.”

One of her clients, Shane Henise, a 25-year-old transgender man with a handsome but boyish face and giggly personality, has never been booked for a modeling job (he does get television and film gigs). “The options really just aren’t there,” he said. “When you think about male models, they are very tall and very built, and I’m 5-foot-5 on a good day.”

The jobs that do come in are from companies or publications specifically looking for transgender models.

If more and more advertisers want to associate themselves with this community, that is a good thing, said Jack Halberstam, a professor of gender studies at Columbia: “A shift from including transpeople as potential models versus seeing them as completely unthinkable in these roles definitely signifies a sea change in public opinion of trans bodies,” Professor Halberstam said. But it isn’t the same as transgender models being able to get the same bookings as their peers.

Ms. Ziff said, “A model wants to be booked for a job because she is a great model — not simply because she is black so she ticks that box, or because she is trans so she ticks that box.”

Ms. Petty concurred. “Why couldn’t I model for Agent Provocateur lingerie or why not Victoria’s Secret?” she asked. “Or maybe do cosmetics for Mac or Nars. I’m very optimistic that it could happen, and it’s a dream of mine. But it hasn’t happened yet.”

Mainstream modeling agencies will tell you they also represent transgender models when appropriate. Women Management says it has two star transgender clients: Leandra Medeiros Cerezo, known professionally as Lea T, who was one of the first models to come out as transgender, and Valentina Sampaio, the current cover star of French Vogue. “We only sign clients to Women Management that we think have the merit to succeed in this business, transgender or otherwise,” said Michael Bruno, an agent at Women Management. “We work to provide them the same opportunities as other models.”

But models seek more from an agency than professional opportunities.

Mr. Henise also gets a sense of belonging from being part of Trans Models. He grew up in a religious household with parents who sent him to strict all-girls schools.

He said the times he spent with the people in the agency conducting photo shoots, talking about their struggles or just hanging out, were the only points in his life he had been with people just like him.

Ms. Di understands what a big deal having a supportive community is for her models, and she is starting additional projects to make their lives richer and easier. With Michael Osofsky, an entrepreneur, she has begun TeaDate, a dating app for transgender people. It started up on Valentine’s Day last year with 5,000 users and now has 23,000. Ms. Di is also trying to digitize the fashion booking process by building an app that connects transgender models around the world with work opportunities.

“A lot of times when you first enter a trans community, it is kind of competitive, and you are surrounded by people trying to win over each other,” she said. “I’m forming a community within a community that can help each other.”

While modeling is often dismissed as superficial, some transgender people consider it a revolutionary act, a means of showing they are just as beautiful and professional as anyone else. “You are not just a model doing your job, superficially having your photo taken,” Ms. Petty said. “You are a role model; you are a leader of this movement.”

Professor Halberstam is skeptical of this argument, saying: “It’s great that there are transbodies visible in the world, but one should be careful about what it means beyond that and about making claims politically. All visibility doesn’t all lead in a progressive direction. Sometimes it’s just visibility.”

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