“I guess when your heart gets broken,
you sort of start to see cracks in everything.
I’m convinced that tragedy wants to harden us
and our mission is never to let it.”
Dear Lea T,
I don’t know how will this ever reach you – or whether you can find a time in your busy life to even read this. But still, I hope that life’s wonder can find a way to let you hear what this lass from Manila has to say.
I would like to congratulate you for your current success and fame. Certainly you are more than aware that you have now been christened as “the fashion world’s first transsexual supermodel.” I’m pretty sure that a lot of transwomen all over the world are delighted by your breakthrough into the world of modeling. Without doubt, you serve as an inspiration for those who dream to catwalk on the ramps of international fashion and grace the pages of famous magazines.
Your naked photo in the August 2010 edition of French Vogue is what really got into me. A simple yet powerful photo that celebrates our body, our existence, our totality. You stand there with a quiet dignity in your eyes, with a sense of self-possession of your uniqueness, and with a distinctive and courageous beauty. To use what Sharon Stone said about the beauty of Meryl Streep, your photo has all the appeal of an “unmade bed.” But more than all these, your photo is like a lover’s affectionate assurance to his/her partner that “she shouldn’t be ashamed of her body for there’s nothing wrong with it.”
Whether it’s your intention or not, you now have also become a spokesperson of transsexual issues, specifically that of transwomen. I’ve read your feature story in The Guardian on 1 August 2010, “Lea T and the loneliness of the fashion world’s first transsexual supermodel.” That article bared your soul, revealing the suffering that you carry on your modelesque shoulders. A lot of transwomen feel your pain as they do share your story of family rejection, societal ridicule, and the accompanying depression.
Surely these things have hardened you and caused you to have, as what you called it, “the war in your head.” I feel that this also led you to be pessimistic about love, calling it a “luxury” . Furthermore, you gave a disheartening reflection saying that “those transsexuals who do enter into serious relationships often do so by keeping their past from their partners.” Then went on saying, “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.”
Lea, I don’t know how far one can argue about the benefits of being a pessimist over being an optimist. Both spiritual teachings and scientific studies show that optimism is beneficial and that pessimism is harmful. I don’t know if you heard about studies showing that optimism boosts the immune system; and that persistent pessimism is hazardous to ones health.
Well, there’s no need to list down all these empirical studies to prove that optimism fares better than pessimism. Relying on our ancient old instinct, we find that we are more motivated, glowing, and engaged when we move more into the light of optimism. But, please, don’t mistake optimism for wishful thinking. Optimism is simply putting things into perspective, and realizing that whatever unfortunate things that happen to us, they too will pass. It is simply understanding that “what was and what is” are not “what will always be.” Things change. Whether change will lead to the road of “better” or “worse” depends on our attitude, persistence, and faith in the benevolence of life.
There’s always a danger in giving a sense of eternity to our suffering. For transsexual people like us, we do this by internalizing the transphobia that we experience/d in our lives, leading us to make our transsexualism as an eternal disabling factor in our lives: “I’m a transsexual, therefore I will never find a job”; “I’m a transsexual, therefore I will never find love”; “I’m a transsexual, therefore I will never _______.” But when we go deeper into ourselves and engaged in self-reflection, can we honestly find the value in staying imprisoned in the cages in which we keep ourselves?
Lea, love is not a luxury. Finding someone to share your happiness with and keeping that person in your life may be hard but it’s not hard in the sense of impossible. It is hard for every one – not just for us transsexuals. It is hard for it’s not easy to be vulnerable. Staying behind our walls seems to be more comfortable than to allow ourselves to experience the exquisite joy and pain of being in love. But it is love that allows you to heal. It brings into surface all that is damaged in you so you can touch them with compassion, thereby allowing the possibility of transformation.
You may say that those who find love, without having to hide their ‘past’ from their partners, may just be lucky. Perhaps. But just like in other areas of our lives, luck cannot work without readiness. Take yourself for example. You are where you are right now because of luck and of your readiness: You were at the right time, at the right place, with the right attitude.
I hope that you let your current affluence and influence inspire you to see the astonishing goodness of life. Hold on to this goodness. Whatever loneliness you are experiencing, just let it be, but don’t indulge in it. Our loneliness are just waiting for us to embrace it with compassion and affection. And what allows us to be able to do this is love.
You were born with love. You’ll die with love. It is not a goal to be achieved nor a luxury you can forego. Love is a foundation for living.
Sass Rogando Sasot