Kate Moss & Lea T’s LOVE Mag Cover Brings Out Media’s Inner Transphobe

We spoke a while ago about the “hot new trend” of trans models being the “it girls” of the fashion industry, and how that entire discussion is fundamentally “transphobic and also stupid.” There was the hope that maybe at least the people who buy that would get bored and move on, but apparently not! The exotifying fascination with trans models, especially with Givenchy’s Lea T, lives on. Specifically, it lives on in a frenzy about the new cover of Love magazine, which features Lea T doing sexy makeouts with cis supermodel Kate Moss. Are you ready for this? No, me neither.

The first thing one notices about the media discussions of the cover are the rampant and unapologetic transphobia.

+ “Who is Lea T? If you don’t know her (or him) you will once you get a gander of the upcoming cover of Lovemagazine in February.

+ “Kate Moss Kisses Tranny Model Lea T On Love Cover”

+ “What was once seen as freakish, and even taboo, has gone mainstream.” (Good thing trans people are no longer perceived as freakish or taboo! That must have sucked.)

+ “The transgender trend is also making waves Down Under. Androgynous Australian Andrej Pejic has become a hit in the international modelling world for his pillowy lips and his ability to fool people into thinking he is female.” (Yes, “fooling people” w/r/t your gender is exactly what the “transgender trend” is about.)

Including two of our personal favorites: wondering why anyone would ever stoop to touching a trans person, and playing the “But I don’t even SEE [marginalized identity]” card to avoid talking about it.

+ “Enter Kate Moss, and you have many scratching their heads trying to make sense of why Moss delivered the timeless kiss in such a provocative, open-mouth manner. She’s not short on stardom, and should still have a lot of dead presidents in her bank account.”

+ “Love’s editor-in-chief, Katie Grand, confessed her adoration of Lea T to London’s Telegraph, gushing, “I was by the pool at the Copacabana Palace Hotel when I saw her. At first I didn’t notice her gender, just that she was wearing Givenchy couture and looked amazing!”

After the blind rage fades a little, though, one notices how little sense any of these press reports make?

+ “Hell, while we’re on boy, what about Beyonce’s song, If I Were a Boy? Remember the Madonna-Britney Spears kiss? Enough said!”

+ “Meanwhile, Moss, the queen of slutwave models, turned 37 on Sunday. She doesn’t look a day older than, well, 37. But the cover of LOVE is one threesome we’d just have to pass up.”

+ “Now [Moss is] taking it a step further, appearing on the cover of LOVE magazine’s ‘Androgyny Issue,’ dressed as a dude and kissing pre-op transsexual model Lea T.” (Wearing a leather jacket does not actually mean you are dressed as a dude, just that you are wearing a leather jacket! How can you “work in fashion” and not know that!)

They do talk about Lady Gaga a lot for some reason though, which I appreciate.

+ “Perhaps the meat-dress with Lady Gaga and her photo-shoot as a boy for Vogue rings a bell.”

+ “There was Lady Gaga gracing the cover of a Japanese Vogue Homme magazine as her male alter ego Jo Calderone, while fashion designer Marc Jacobs also dressed in drag for the cover of the latest Industrie magazine.”

+ “[It's about] ambiguity. Lady Gaga is someone who is at the forefront of this.”

The takeaway is this: if you remove the transphobic flailing, the snarky speculation about Kate Moss’s “reputation,” and the name-dropping of celebrities like Lady Gaga and James Franco likely included for SEO purposes, really all you have left of these articles is a headline. So why write them at all?

If you take the gender panic out of this scenario, the truth is this is not a newsworthy or even a gossipworthy story. This is a fashion model kissing another fashion model for a fashion photo shoot; they are both very attractive, it’s a beautiful shot, and an impressive magazine cover. That’s all.

Honestly, there is nothing to analyze here, and that’s coming from a publication obsessed with the analysis of gender in mainstream culture to an arguably unhealthy degree. Or if there is something to analyze, it isn’t why one beautiful woman is interacting with another beautiful woman in XYZ way on a magazine cover; it is their job. The end. The thing worth looking into is why at least a half dozen media sources (including this one, to be completely fair) have decided to spend their time and yours picking it apart. The AP Stylebook dictates that journalists should always use a trans person’s self-identified pronoun when reporting on them; maybe it should also state that if your story collapses without a central pillar of transphobia, then it shouldn’t be written at all.

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Rachel is Autostraddle's Senior Editor and the editor who presides over books and news & politics coverage. Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy."

Rachel has written 759 articles for us.

42 Comments

  1. Thumb up 0

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    “Hell, while we’re on boy, what about Beyonce’s song, If I Were a Boy? Remember the Madonna-Britney Spears kiss? Enough said!”

    No, really. I know it was the point, but what?? I don’t think enough WAS said… though really I don’t want them to say any more. I’m thoroughly confused and it has nothing to do with the gender of anyone.

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      I think it is purely fetishizing, and I agree, its bullshit. Its just the fashion industry trying to be ‘cutting edge’ and ‘shocking’ and transpeople are the ‘it’ way to do it right now. It’s Madonna and Brittney’s fault, lesbians are so last year.

      People of all minorities need visibility and role models, it is SUCH a shame that this is one of the few ways that the trans community are visible at all at the moment.

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        i think something should have to be legally and culturally and socially accepted/respected before it’s ever allowed to be categorized as a ‘trend’, like that should be a rule or something

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          Ideal world I agree with you. Though right now, how does something become accepted/respected without being visible first? It’s exploitative hands down but is it better than nothing? (Genuine question, that one. I don’t have an answer)

          I think the first rule needs to be that batshit crazy writers can’t point at people of minority groups and shriek ‘Freakshow! Tranny! Meat dress! ‘Nuff said!’. THEN we work on rule two. Somewhere in there the people of AS pretty much take over the world. Can we put those things on the next gay agenda?

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          If they’re gonna use our style and our jokes and our memes for financial gain, we should get, like, rights and stuff, amirite?

  2. Thumb up 0

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    The headlines almost make it sound as if Lea T is not a human. It’s almost as if Kate Moss made out with an alien or animal. I don’t get it. Why are trans-people so hugely left out of the non gay or lesbians idea of queer? Why do steps forward for the gay and lesbian community leave them so far behind, legally as well as socially? It’s so frustrating.

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      The problem is that the groups that largely drive gay rights movements in this country and have the major resources to make legal change are led by cisgender gay or lesbian men and women. They are also often from middle and upper middle class backgrounds and are white. Groups such as HRC (and others, but they are the biggest, and admittedly, easiest, target) get most of their money from people who have very specific goals, such as same sex marriage, and do not really want to give money or work towards rights that don’t directly affect them or interest them.

      Luckily, there are so many more groups doing amazing work for trans and general queer rights. Queers for Economic Justice, the Audre Lorde Project, the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, and many many others are trying to gain visibility to issues facing trans folks, people of color, queer youth, but the resources aren’t there.

      The gay rights movement is very similar to every other social justice and political battle of modern times. Unfortunately, more often than not, it comes down to who has the money and who is willing to spend it for what cause. Right now, trans people are on the bottom of the ladder when it comes to that.

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    It really bugs me that some of the articles find it necessary to describe Lea T as pre-op… because that’s supposedly edgier I guess… It’s definitely indicative of the fetishism by the media that’s already been mentioned.

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    “Perhaps the meat-dress with Lady Gaga and her photo-shoot as a boy for Vogue rings a bell.”

    …what bell is the meat-dress supposed to be ringing? I don’t get why it’s being brought up in that quote. Speaking of two models kissing, remember that dress made of meat? (I’m focusing on that quote and how bewildered it makes me so that my rage doesn’t make me go supernova. So far it’s almost working!)

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      Yeah, the meat dress thing doesn’t make any sense AT ALL. And bringing up her shoot for Vogue Japan raises another issue that really bugs for reals. Lady Gaga doing drag =/= a trans woman. The media always seems to see doing drag and being trans as the same thing when it’s obvs not. Unless it’s a story about trans people that do drag, which I have never seen, so yeah, STFU media.

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    I wonder what Lea T. thinks of all this? on the one hand, she (and by extension, all trans people) is being exploited; on the other, she’s taking her exploitation to the bank, which is the only way to validate anything in a capitalist society. (I’m guessing she was paid for these photo shoots.) My trans gf and I have conversations about this kind of stuff all the time: do you capitalize on the stupidity/ignorance/fear/fascination of others, or do you refuse to play the game? “We don’t know” is the honest answer. I’m interested in what others think.
    That aside, the media coverage is predictably disgusting, especially the “pre-op” part: how do they know? People’s medical histories are supposed to be private. I wouldn’t ask my friend if her mom has had a hysterectomy.

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    Clearly they don’t get the difference between androgyny, gayness and transness. They are NOT the same people! Some of them intersect or cross over, but not always! GRR!

    And can I just say Go Mossy!? I like that she has the proverbial balls to walk into this kind of shoot without fear of reaction from corporate sponsors etc. Besides which, it’s just hot.

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    i had to explain to someone the other day that cross dressing and being transexual were two different things and niether equated to being homosexual. he was genuinely surprised! sadly this is what the mainstream media is teaching mr and mrs average. and the `pre-op’ preface makes me mad as hell!

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    I am so angered right now. Why do they insist on refering to Lea T as “pre-op” or a “boy”. And, ugh, like what makes them think it’s okay to refer to transfolk as trannies? /BLINDEDBYRAGE

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    i cant believe y’all are this surprised. as Zach pointed out, that’s the mainstream for ya. when cisgendered queers with monies make DADT and gay marriage The Priority on The Gay Agenda, it tends to leave out some b a s i c shit for the rest of us/everyone.
    Lea T’s just doing her job, not capitalizing off of others’ ig’nance, y’know? i’m sure there’s a ton of people into fashion who bought that magazine and just don’t care about the genders of the people involved. kate moss doesn’t need to get an award for this.
    maybe the mainstream is in the kakapoopoo phase when it comes to gender, but trans and gender nonconforming folks have been doing amazing work since forever and continue to achieve a ton especially given the lack of inclusion we’ve got to deal with.
    Lea T’s doing the work by just being visible, beautiful and herself. how ’bout everyone else?

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    “Meanwhile, Moss, the queen of slutwave models, turned 37 on Sunday. She doesn’t look a day older than, well, 37. But the cover of LOVE is one threesome we’d just have to pass up.”

    This is one threesome I would decidedly NOT pass up. Hands in the air, anyone?

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      I don’t do threesomes anymore, but back when I did I’d have 2nded you ;)

      Ironically, the kind of disgustingly objectifying fetishism mentioned in the article is why I don’t. I don’t even identify as trans so it became pretty clear to me those couples saw me as just a body.

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    WHO THE FUCK CARES ABOUT GENDER??? is all I have to say. Seriously, who cares whether someone is gay, straight, “tranny,” or whatever you want to call it? Who the fuck is just one of those things anyway? I’d bet NOBODY. Focusing on a person’s “sexuality” is stupid. Let’s all kiss a bunch of people, hello, key word PEOPLE, and get over this immature idiocy. By the way, go Kate, you rock, girl!*

    *or “boy”

    *or ???

    *or who gives a shit

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    “If you haven’t heard of her (or him)” and “. . . tranny model”

    *Groan*

    As someone else said . . . it’s shocking but really, did we expect more than this? Perhaps we’re just too insulated in our LGBTQ community or something!

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