Brazilian transgender model Lea T. in Newsweek: The mainstream media could use a “trans 101″ course
July 7, 2011 | 3:18 pm
(Updated: February 22, 2013 | 4:39 pm)
Well here’s a can of worms.
Newsweek just published an extended feature about a Transgender Brazilian model, Lea T.
Lea T. has been making headlines for a while now, portrayed in media as a novel phenomenon – while trans issues periodically appear in the media as a news story, or transgender people sit for an interview on The View, it’s pretty new for a transgender person to be covered and even celebrated in the mainstream for the one thing society has the most trouble with: their bodies.
That can be both good and bad – in Lea T’s case, the narrative is often about how much she “looks” like a woman, which seems to imply that a transgender person’s identity is only as legitimate as their ability to pass. But Lea T’s public image is not framed exclusively through tabloid or as a social issue: she is a sexy, beautiful trans woman who is breaking new ground as a model. She seems to be able to be successful in her career both with and without the transgender label – she can interview for a reporter or model in one shoot as a transgender woman model, and in another shoot she is a woman model – giving her control over how she fulfills her own identity. She can make being transgender the issue, or can make it incidental – a woman who “happens to be trans” on the job – if she chooses. The ability to control one’s own identity is a very good thing.
An excerpt from the Newsweek article:
The new sensation of the runways is Lea T., a transgender model who fell into the trade almost by accident and has been making outsize waves ever since. Atop a runway for the first time less than a year ago, she has graced magazine covers, posed fully nude for French Vogue, and fled paparazzi. She donned swimwear for compatriot designer Alexandre Herchcovitch and strapped into a full bikini for Blue Man in Rio last week, to the delight of gawkers on Copacabana beach. That was her in a lip lock with Kate Moss on a recent cover of the French magazine Love, and that was her again on Oprah, in February, when she detailed how to flaunt the scantiest women’s gear without spilling secrets. She’s now listed No. 42 on Models.com’s top 50 models. And to judge by the ruckus in Rio, Lea’s rise is just beginning.
The big problem with the Newsweek article is summed up in the headline:
Brazil’s hottest new model is tall, dark, and glamorous. She’s also a he. Meet high fashion’s newest gender-bending muse.
Well no. Lea T. doesn’t present herself as a “gender-bender,” she’s a woman who is transgender. Nor is she a “he,” she’s a transgender woman.
Lets re-write that headline:
Brazil’s hottest new model is tall,
dark, and glamorous. She’s also a he transgender woman. Meet high fashion’s newest gender-bending groundbreaking muse.