13 December 2010

Givenchy's Transsexual Supermodel Talks!

Givenchy by Riccardo Tisci model, muse to Riccardo himself and ‘the first transsexual supermodel’, Lea T, has had a whirlwind of a year. After appearing in the Givenchy campaign in May she’s found herself suddenly rather in demand – shoots for Italian Vanity Fair and a naked appearance in French Vogue followed and her model agency were quoted as saying they have received over 400 requests for interviews with the Brazilian mannequin.  

Now in Milan preparing for her gender reassignment surgery, Lea has given some more comments to the press about what she is going through. She explains that she feels the surgery will improve things, but not make everything perfect - 'I will always feel uncomfortable, but it will make my life a little easier, and I will look in the mirror and see something I like more.'

She explains her motivation for featuring in the campaign shots that started it all . . . 'When you are a transsexual, you look for your future, and you can't see it. I thought this would be a nice message for another tranny: "Look, we can be the same as other girls and boys." It's small, but it makes you feel like you have a little chance. Maybe a transsexual will open a magazine and think: 'That's cool. We can be whatever we want.' That's why I did the Givenchy campaign.'

Rather than Lea’s backstory leaking out to the fashion press, it was a condition of the shoot that Lea made Riccardo promise to tell everyone that she was originally a he, because Lea believes, pessimistically that "We transsexuals are born and grow up alone. After the operation we are born again, but once again alone. And we die alone. It is the price we pay." And that this lonliness inherent in her situation makes her want to help other trans people by becoming a role model for them.

Riccardo Tisci and Lea have been friends for years, and it was Riccardo who employed Lea as an assistant and fit model at the house of Givenchy. Lea has now said that the ‘T’ stands for Tisci, as she considers herself part of her boss/best friend’s family. Her birth family are said to be partly estranged from her – she grew up as Leandro in Brazil and Milan in a wealthy, very strict Catholic family. Her father, Toninho Cerezo, who was a famous footballer and is now a manager will not discuss Lea’s life as a model or her successes.

Good luck with the operation Lea!

- Naomi Attwood


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