In my post about Jean Paul Gaultier’s new ad campaign last week, I made a mention of the transexual Brazilian model Lea T and her Kate Moss liplock on the cover of Love magazine. “I wouldn’t even know she is transexual, if it weren’t for all the other publications saying it,” I thought to myself. Then, I began to question why they were saying it, because no, it doesn’t really matter.
But, as it turns out, Lea T. herself wants everyone to know that she’s transsexual.
In fact, Lea’s friend and Givenchy designer Riccardo Tisci apparently offered to tell the press she was a woman before her first ad campaign came out in magazines. Jezebel reports that Lea told him “absolutely not.” T. explained:
He told me, “Are you sure — can I ask you, because I have to speak about the campaign, I wanna know if you, if you wanna — what I have to say. You want I say you’re a girl?” I said, “No no no. The first thing I want you to say is that I’m a transsexual. That’s the most important thing.”
I realize that many transmen and women’s goal is to pass, but I admire Lea T. for wanting to be known as trans. She’s out and proud about it, which helps give visibility and normalcy to the trans community. After all, if everyone passes, how do trans people get the support and recognition they deserve?
As Lea goes on to say:
Maybe another transsexual has the same situation as me. Because if you are feeling that you are in the wrong body, you have identity problems, it can be really serious. [...] You can have all these things: you feel you’re ugly, you feel you’re wrong, people make you feel you’re wrong, you feel you have no chance in life. Maybe a young transsexual, maybe a 20-year-old transsexual, she can see — she open the magazine and she see, “Oh, she’s a transsexual!” I know it’s much more important, say, this transsexual become a doctor, or this transsexual become, a serious, important — but this maybe make her feel more comfortable for just a few seconds. I really want to say I am transsexual. It is the most important thing.
So yes, sometimes things that define us aren’t relevant. Often, race, sexuality, gender identity, career, education, family history, etc. don’t matter. Other times, it can matter a lot — especially if there’s a chance it can help others and further a collective message.
Lea T. will appear on one of Oprah‘s last shows on her final season. You can hear her talk about the experience of letting cameras into her life for the show on this Models.com video interview.
What do you think of Lea T.’s decision to be open about her transsexuality?