As I sat at the Central Market in RiNo waiting for Brandan Rader, I had no idea what was about to strut through the crowded cafeteria. When I finally noticed him walking toward me, I could tell that physically he was shorter than myself — I’m 6 — foot but the confidence he exudes made him look 10 feet tall.
Brandan is one of the rare individuals who understands that he is not limited by society’s gender roles and expectations. This grants him a tremendous amount of freedom in both his personal life and his career as model.
As he sat down at the table, his muscles were almost bulging out of his impressive everyday wear. His hair was expertly styled to frame his heartthrob jawline that had begun to sprout dark facial hair. But there was something feminine about his features. His eyebrows were perfectly shaped, and it looked as if he ripped his lips right off of Kylie Jenner’s face. Everything about Brandan screams androgyny.
“Androgyny refers to the expression of gender that falls in the middle of the gender continuum,” Brandan said. “My goal is to engender equality by letting my second skin radiate with authenticity.”
Brandan describes “second skin” as the identity that society gave him at birth. Born as a biological male, Brandan was, and continues to be, expected to act and dress according to that social norm. From the time we leave the womb the formation of our second skin begins to take place, thanks to those who surround and shape us.
“I would contend mine commenced with being denominated Brandan and being clothed in a blue onesie,” he said. “Three facets of my second skin I deem significant are my sex, gender, and sexual orientation.”
Even though he identifies as a homosexual, cisgender male, Brandan has learned to let his second skin radiate with authenticity, which happens to be fierce.
Being an advocate of personal authenticity was not always easy for Brandan. After being recruited by a modeling agent at the mall and quickly picked up by multiple agencies, Brandan was set to dominate the modeling industry. However, the pressures of the industry encouraged Brandan to portray a more masculine identity. For a while Brandan attempted to fit the superficial standards that were infringed upon him.
“Ironically, the more I was accepted by the industry, the less comfortable I felt in my own skin.”
This pressure was not exclusively in Brandan’s professional career. He found that people who were close to him also encouraged him to perform inside a gender parameter. He dealt with constantly being told that he needed to be tough, grow facial hair, and be the guy who girls wanted to date.
“Essentially I was told, ‘Pretty boy, you’ve got a nice face, but change.’”
He didn’t. Brandan is part of a big movement. Through his modeling, he blurs the lines of male and female and speaks to the illusion of gender constructs.
Brandan doesn’t want people to be a stoic man or a pretty woman. He wants people to be authentic and not restricted by the chains that once shackled him. That is the Rader movement.