When 23-year-old Brazilian student Rodrigo Lopes entered the Brother house in 2009 we instantly feel in love with him and his sweet, often cheeky personality.
During his time in the house he formed an on/off relationship with Charlie Drummond, and they became Big Brother’s “first gay couple” when they shared a bath together, then a passionate embrace in the bedroom.
Rodrigo, who is now 26, has realised he may not simply be a gay man. He has started to live his life as a woman called Rebekah, dressing up on nights out, and is planning gender reassignment. Rodrigo has decided to talk exclusively in this week’s heat magazine about his journey towards becoming a woman for good.
Rodrigo, when did you first start thinking about changing gender?
I’ve always felt like I had a woman inside of me, always. But I used to hide it. I’ve always liked make-up, treatments and other womanly things, and I was 18 when I first started experimenting. But early this year I told my best friend Andrea how I was really feeling.
What did she say?
She encouraged me. When I came back to the UK I started wearing my friends’ clothes first, then I began shopping for them. People in the shops were surprisingly normal about it. Now I go out with
a transvestite I made friends with. She’s very glam. We go to straight clubs and get a lot of attention.
What steps are you taking?
I’ve called up the helpline and spoken to a doctor about it. But I’m still worried about my parents in Brazil and whether or not they would accept me. It’s hard for me. It’s not an easy decision or a joke.
So what’s next?
I’m about to see the doctor for an appointment next week and I’m looking into hormone treatment.
The doctor tells you that you should live as a woman for a year before you make any big decision about surgery, so that’s what I’m doing.
Who do you fancy more: gay or straight men?
Straight men, mostly. I don’t even know whether I’m gay, lesbian or straight. But Rebekah is straight. She likes straight men.
Is Rebekah the female name you’ve chosen for yourself?
Yes. I’ve thought about Rebekah Shelton. Rebekah because I love the name, and Shelton is the surname of my English family, Jenny and Peter, who I lived with when I first moved over from Brazil. They are like a second family to me and have been really supportive.
Explain to us what Rebekah is like…
She’s a very modern woman. She likes to pay her own way and not have doors opened for her. She’s flirty, but would never go home with someone on the first date. She’s very short-tempered, too! She’s much madder than I could ever be – once, she tried to take her high heel and throw it in
a man’s face.
Do you have any doubts about becoming a woman?
I’m becoming more sure every day. What makes me like it more is the attention Rebekah is getting – people really like her. I don’t know if it will be difficult. But it wouldn’t make that much difference. I’m not that masculine.
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