"It's the most beautiful compliment I've ever received," Rau tells the publication.
French model Ines Rau reached a major milestone this month as the first transgender woman to become a Playboy Playmate in publication's 64-year history.
"I lived a long time without saying I was transgender," Rau told the magazine. "I dated a lot and almost forgot. I was scared of never finding a boyfriend and being seen as weird. Then I was like, 'You know, you should just be who you are.' It's a salvation to speak the truth about yourself, whether it's your gender, sexuality, whatever. The people who reject you aren't worth it. It's not about being loved by others; it's about loving yourself."
The 26-year-old stunner appears in the magazine's first issue since founder Hugh Hefner passed away last month.
Rau and other transgender models have posed for the magazine in the past, but not as official "Playmates" with a pictorial and centerfold.
"When I was doing this shoot, I was thinking of all those hard days in my childhood," she added. "And now everything happening gives me so much joy and happiness. I thought, Am I really going to be a Playmate - me? It's the most beautiful compliment I've ever received. It's like getting a giant bouquet of roses."
After the news broke, former porn star Jenna Jameson tweeted her disapproval of the choice:
So @playboy just announced it will be featuring its first transgender playmate... 🤦🏼♀️🤦🏼♀️🤦🏼♀️— Jenna Jameson (@jennajameson) October 19, 2017
Rau's spread will be featured in the November/December 2017 issue available Oct. 31.