By Tracy Garza, Communications Associate

LeaT

I don’t always agree with society’s conventional wisdom on what constitutes feminine beauty. Maybe this is part of the reason I was extremely happy to hear about Benetton’s decision to include Lea T in their new global publicity campaign.

For those who don’t already know, Lea T is a Brazilian trans woman, and one of the most sought-after models in the world at the moment. I love that she has gotten to where she is not by being “stealth” about her trans status, but instead very open and happy to talk at length about her transition.

In most regards, the world of advertising has long been dominated by a very constrained notion of what a beautiful woman is – usually it’s one that closely adheres to the standards of what is attractive to most white cis people, to the patriarchal notion that being a woman must mean being femme (or at least not butch), and to the false notion that trans women aren’t naturally beautiful.

I think all women are beautiful, and I see a lot of beautiful women around me almost every day… trans women, women of color, butch, soft-butch, tomboys and androdykes, women of all shapes and sizes, and any combination of any of these. And I think Benetton has done a great job picking a trans woman of color to be part of their new global campaign.

For a big part of making the world safer so that every one of us can be our authentic selves is changing not just the laws that rule our lives, but also changing attitudes and allowing greater participation by groups that have traditionally been oppressed and marginalized.

There’s few groups that have been as oppressed, marginalized, and persecuted as trans women of color, as anyone who has attended a Transgender Day of Remembrance can attest. The overwhelming majority of the names that are read each year, sadly, are those of trans women of color – Latinas and African-American women particularly – both in the United States and other countries, such as Mexico and Brazil.

We really must remember that all women are beautiful, whether we are trans or cis, femme or butch, and regardless of our ethnicity or the color of our skin. It is also true, unfortunately, that some of us have had to face transmisogyny and racism, in addition to the more widespread practices that perpetuate misogyny, racism and sexism.

Regardless, I am happy that a beautiful woman like Lea T can be chosen to be a part of this global publicity campaign – I just hope that the world won’t forget about all of the other trans women of color she represents.

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