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New York Fashion Week model wears male and female catwalk fashions

An androgynous model is altering perceptions of fashion as she takes to the catwalks of New York Fashion Week - because she's suitable as both a male and female model.

Rain Dove Dubilewski's career as a model began when she was cast in a men's underwear show - before they discovered she was a woman.

And the 'gender bending' tag has stayed with her, even as the slender 26in-waist brunette delighted the crowds at one of the fashion world's biggest events.

Now signed with Major Models, Rain makes a point of not pigeonholing herself.

The straight-talking 6ft 1in former firefighter has admitted that she gets more acceptance when she dresses as a man - and questionable responses when she wears a more feminine dress.

But she's here to shake things up, describing herself as an activist.

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On her blog, On Being a Woman, she explains an experience where her gender baffled others at a shoot.

"I explained to [one girl] that I was an andro model and showed her my portfolio.

"She laughed and called over some other models, who all took a look. They all giggled and said they thought I was a male model. I laughed back and said 'well, at least you knew I was a model'.

"That seemed to break the ice, and slowly I was able to ease in socially with each of them. One girl said to me 'you know, I normally keep to myself during these things. But, since you aren't really competition for MY market - I feel a little safer sitting next to you. May I?'"

As for her gender, she says: "I am a woman. I was born a woman. I love being a woman.

"But... The way woman is defined by marketable modeling and commercial standards... It makes me feel alien to myself.

"Are these 36Ds and a vagina all I have to prove that I'm a lady to all these designers?

Her appearance on the NYFW catwalks has added to an already gratifyingly varied expanse of models, including Maddy Stuart, an 18-year-old model with Down's syndrome, size 16 model Ashley Graham and Rebekah Marine, who has a prosthetic arm.

Speaking about diversity in the industry, Rain says: "I will conquer FEMMEness.... And then I will turn it on its head and redefine it for the world to see.

"Because no one should ever feel this disconnected from their own identity ever again.

"I will be Lady Liberty."

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