The Transsexual Supermodel: A Haunting Beauty

In I saw... on August 2, 2010 at 9:20 am

When I browsed through the Givenchy couture collection, I saw beautiful dresses, beautiful models and scrolled down to the next designer. Had I known the collection featured the fashion world’s first transsexual supermodel, I suspect I would have paid more attention to detail.

Givenchy Couture Collection 2010

Lea T is without doubt, beautiful, more than just pretty. With that natural, native Indian beauty, the Brazilian model, born Leandro Cerezo, oozes femininity in the portfolio photographs for her suitably named modelling agency, Women Management.

Lea, second from right, in the Givenchy campaign

She burst onto the modelling scene after serving several years as a personal assistant to her long-time friend Riccardo Tisci, creative director of Givenchy. It was Tisci, when he was just a graduate of London’s Central Saint Martin school, who first encouraged Lea to start dressing as a woman. She comes from a strict Catholic family, with a footballing hero as a father (Toninho Cerezo) and describes the transition as a desperately lonely one. “When I discovered transsexuality, I was curious then recoiled with fear, telling myself, ‘I am not like that,’ she said. Pumping her body full of female hormones, Lea spends most of her life feeling pre-menstrual and plans to have the full gender changing operation by the end of the year.

Click to see full photograph (may not be appropriate viewing for some)

This summer Lea posed naked in all her (pre-op) glory for an interview with French Vogue. While the fashion industry has embraced the trans-gendered model, Lea admits it’s still an ongoing battle. Castings often set the scene for bullying, where other models take jibes, telling Lea, “the men’s casting is that way”. She is well aware of the challenges that lie ahead. On love, she says she “cannot allow [herself] the luxury” and is depressingly dismissive on the subject of finding happiness with someone else. “Those transsexuals who do enter into serious relationships, often do so by keeping their past from their partners. They live as hypocrites; it is a variation on solitude. 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.”

It is perhaps this reality, this heartbreak that we see piercing through Lea’s eyes, making her so captivating on camera.


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