In the mid-1970s, Norman was the face of Clairol’s Born Beautiful hair color (No. 512, Dark Auburn). She had an exclusive contract with Avon. She did several photo shoots with Essence. She was a house model in Balenciaga’s Paris showroom.
She had also been born male, although almost no one knew her secret, a story she told in the latest New York magazine.
An African-American model already facing discrimination based on her skin color, she knew that any hint that she was also transgender would have ended her career and could have led to her death.
When word did eventually get out, the work dried up.
“I was a model, so males and females were attracted to me, and when they find out that I’m not what they perceive me to be, it freaks them out,” she told the magazine. “That’s what I’ve experienced in my life, what I was getting from straight women and straight men.”
Read more of her story here.