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One of the secrets to the iconic fashion model Lauren Foster's incredible diuturnity in the public eye is her remarkable love life and the uncompromising manner in which she celebrates her womanhood.
Fabled for her fair-haired, blue-eyed, soft and lean patrician beauty, and her appearances in countless magazines from Vogue Mexico to D'Luxe, Foster famously dated Prince Egon Von Furstenburg, the Swiss-born aristocrat and fashion impresario. Although she's has been married twice, in recent years the 50-something legend (who does not disclose her exact age) has become known for her passionate partnerships with younger, straight, cisgender (nontrans) men.
"Uncomplicated younger men are so much fun to have relationships with," Foster tells The Advocate in a special conversation to celebrate Valentine's Day. "They love the dynamic. You don't remind them of the needy, younger women who are desperate to get married and have a family. Confident women throw age conventions and stereotypes to the wind when younger men pursue us."
Two of Foster's partners of the last few years are well-known models and entertainers. Foster's ex-boyfriend Corey Cann once tweeted a photograph of his firm, substantial obliques and quadriceps with the words, "Thighs to DIE for? 192 lbs, 0% body fat."
Johnathan Myers (pictured above with Foster), Foster's most recent former partner, is a much-in-demand underwear model and performer who has appeared in videos and pictorials for Andrew Christian, the popular menswear company.
But the lovers in Foster's life offer more than beauty. Their unabashed acceptance of and support for her womanhood make these relationships dear to Foster's heart.
Foster will spend this Valentine's Day in San Francisco, taking in the opening night of Myers's all-male revue Undressed at Balancoire Theater in the Castro. "I am so proud of him," Foster says. "[Myers] has been working so hard on this project. It will be a fun night, with the opening scheduled especially for Valentine's weekend."
The feeling is clearly mutual. Myers tweeted a very public love note to Foster when they first started dating in 2014, openly espousing his affirmation of Foster's authentic identity.
"He really had the courage of his convictions to stand proud with me," Foster says of the enduring importance of her relationship with Myers. "We speak a lot and spend time together. Obviously we're not living together any longer, but we are more than welcome in each other's homes whenever. We're still very much in each other's lives, even though we don't have a romantic relationship."
While chatting about Myers, Foster keeps returning to the issue of her identifications. Speaking about love seems to have opened up a long-simmering valve with her, forcing her to assert her lifelong identification as a "woman NOT a transwoman," as she noted in a follow-up email, capitalizing "not." This is her solemnly held understanding, and she believes her view has not always been well-represented in press coverage about her.
Foster first accepted her girlhood at the age of 9 in Durban, South Africa. When she was 18, she obtained gender-confirmation surgery in Swaziland from a pioneering physician named Derk Crichton, with the full support and funding of her family.
Whether appearing on The Real Housewives of Miami as a confidant of socialite Marysol Patton or working as a tour manager with Boy George and Grace Jones, Foster asks that the people in her life embrace her womanhood without equivocation.
This does not mean that Foster hides her gender transition. On the contrary, she has been an active, vocal fundraiser and advocate for LGBT equality and youth enrichment, working with organizations like the Trevor Project and the GLAAD Miami Leadership Council. She produced a website, JustAnotherGirl.org, that drives home how important her womanhood is to her. She has even befriended the bestselling author and trans teen star, Jazz Jennings, with whom Foster walked the red carpet at last year's GLAAD Awards in Los Angeles.
Foster's heartfelt assertions bring up fundamental differences in how trans people identify and find love. At its root, being transgender means that individuals do not identify with the gender that they were assigned at birth. But how that identification manifests itself is different for everyone, and Foster has always identified with society's expectations for womanhood.
Nonbinary individuals, without question, deserve the same rights, respect, and encouragement as those like herself who fit within the binary, Foster says. But she's equally adamant about advocating for her own right to be respected as the woman she is.
"People ask me often, 'So when did you transition?'" Foster recounts. "My answer is always, 'I transitioned for six hours when I was on the operating table' and after that I identified as a woman, or as I would always say to my mother, 'just another girl.' A lot of trans people, especially now, always want to celebrate their trans individuality. I just want to celebrate my womanhood. And I know that other trans people might not share this with me. But I transitioned to become a woman, not a trans woman."
For Foster, talking about love means talking identity. Over the years, Foster has insisted that the language used to describe her respect her definitions, and that's the best valentine anyone could ever give.