Arts

How trans icon Enza Anderson has made Toronto a better place — just by being who she is

Bursting onto the scene in the early 2000s with her bright red lipstick, long legs and high heels, "Enza Supermodel" has been a trailblazer for trans representation.

'Go with it, run with it and show the world that we're all human beings'

(CBC Arts)

If you lived in Toronto in the mid 2000's, Enza Supermodel's weekly column was a morning commute staple.

Bursting onto the scene with her bright red lipstick, long legs and high heels, Enza could not be missed. Her column "The Hot Ticket by Enza Supermodel" ran in Metro Toronto, Canada's most widely circulated free newspaper from 2004-2010. Filled with witty and entertaining coverage of Toronto social events, it was so much more than a social column. Seeing a trans woman to appear in such a public role was a sign to me that our city was progressing and changing. As a young gay person, having someone like Enza prominent in the mainstream media made me feel more accepted by the city I lived in.

Enza is a trailblazer — so it was an honour to have her join the Queer (Self) Portrait series and hear firsthand about her journey from volunteer reporter on 10% QTV to the media personality she is today. Her journey was not without struggle. She talks openly about the barriers she's faced while fighting for her dream of establishing a media empire called "Enzavision". For her, this journey was not only about professional growth but ultimately about self-discovery. She says: "If I'm going to live, I have to function daily like everyone else."

(CBC Arts)

Enza also made her mark on the political scene. In fact, if you don't remember her for her column, you may remember her from her 2000 mayoral bid — in which she placed third in the final vote. Though unsuccessful in her bids for city council, having Enza on the ballot and in the media created visibility for this marginalized part of the community. This was, after all, a time when transgender women were often referred to as drag queens by the mainstream media.

Enza's activism and volunteer work should not be understated or forgotten. She currently serves as a board member of the Toronto Police Service LGBT2SQ Community Consultative Committee and BMO's LGBTQ Employee Resource Group, BMOPride, also working to bring awareness to groups such as the foundation People with AIDS and the LGBT Youth Line. Enza can often be found making media appearance throughout Toronto, most recently as a guest host at this year's Toronto Pride Parade. She's someone who's changed the city for the better — just by being who she is.

Find Enza on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Queer (Self) Portraits was born out of director Gabrielle Zilkha's participation in this year's 10X10 Photography Project. 10X10 is an annual art exhibit and book curated by James Fowler and produced each year to mark Pride Month. Each year, ten queer and trans photographers are selected to take portraits of ten queer and trans people whom they wish to celebrate for their contributions to the arts. Watch the full series here!

About the Author

Jenn Mason is a producer with a wide range of multi-media projects under her belt from documentaries to fashion shows, art installations to theatrical performances.

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