Since becoming designer Riccardo Tisci’s muse and the face of the latest Givenchy campaign, Lea T has been living the supermodel dream. However, she was born Leo and was a boy. On Oprah, she speaks of the transition from man to woman and the prejudices she had to face.
Technically, Lea T. is not a woman just yet, since the gender reassignment surgery will take place soon. Only after that will she be able to say that she finally has the body she was born to have.
As she tells Oprah in a recently taped interview, she always knew that there was something wrong with her body, even though for a very long while she simply hoped she was gay.
That would have been easier for her family to accept. Her father, a famous Brazilian football player, and her mother, a devout Catholic, have now come to terms that she will be a girl for the rest of her life.
Lea says hormone therapy was harder than imagined, and admits that part of her problem was mental: because she simply could not see herself as a man, could not think of herself as of a man, regardless of how hard she tried to lead a normal life.
“It’s really difficult because you fight with all the world,” she says of the transition (quotes via the Daily Mail). “You fight with your family. You fight with yourself too. You have to change everything in yourself,” she says.
“I was hoping I was gay. Because, for my family, it would be less painful. And then I could... have a normal life,” Lea says of the early days when she tried to solve the problem by denying it.
“I wish I could accept my body like men. It would be much easier for me if I could be a straight guy and have a girlfriend, family and daughters, married, all this normal life,” she says.
“But it’s something in your brain – born in the wrong body,” Lea explains. Still, starting to dress, act and model as a woman was no walk in the park, and she was often laughed at and bullied because of it.
The surgery will probably fix that. But Lea knows she will also have to deal with the emotional aspect of the intervention.
“Of course physically, this operation is a big operation. But at the same time, I think it’s mental too. To think like: ‘Wow, I cut a part of my body’,” Lea tells Oprah.
Part of the interview with Lea T on The Oprah Winfrey Show is embedded below. There are longer videos on YouTube, but their quality is far too bad to include them here.