Miss India Transgender to be held in Chennai

September 2nd, 2009 - 6:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai, Sep 2 (IANS) In an attempt to change the majority view towards transgenders and also integrate the latter into the mainstream, a city-based non governmental agency will be holding a beauty pageant for transgenders here in December.
“Transgenders are viewed as sex objects and are ridiculed. We want to change this perception,” A.J. Hariharan, founder secretary of the Indian Community Welfare Organisation (ICWO) told IANS.

As per plans, around 150 transgenders from across the country are expected to contest for the Miss India Transgender title. There will be contests for Miss Beautiful Eyes, Miss Beautiful Hair and Miss Beautiful Skin.

“We expect around 2,000 people to witness the show of which 500-1,000 will be transgenders. Through press and other media we hope to reach out to one crore people,” he said.

ICWO is holding talks with NGOs and other AIDS control organisations to share the cost burden of the first such event in the country.

Queried about the germination of the beauty contest idea for transgenders, he said: “We were discussing various contests like cookery, music, song and dance and the like. Then it struck us to hold a beauty contest.”

The judges panel will be equally divided amongst transgenders and famous personalities.

Does not a beauty contest for transgenders with costs being shared by AIDS control societies mean stereotyping of this community as sexual objects with high AIDS risk?

Explaining his point of view, Hariharan said: “The AIDS control societies and NGOs working for the welfare of transgenders have an existing infrastructure. We would like to use that so as to reduce the cost.”

He hopes the corporate sector will come forward with sponsorships either as a commercial opportunity or as their corporate social responsibility activity for the upliftment of a neglected community.

“There will be song and dance performances of transgenders who have made a mark in those fields.”

According to Hariharan, the challenges ahead for holding such an event are not just financial but also many other things - like people opposing the event at the venue.

He hopes to get the Tamil Nadu government’s support for this event citing the government’s decision to set up a welfare board for transgenders - the first state in the country to do so.

Kalki Subramaniam, a transgender who runs the Sahodhari Foundation which works for the welfare of transgenders said: “It is a good idea to have a beauty contest, however, if it is only based on physical beauty, then I am not in favour of it.”

“There should be some intellectual component to the contest also. And if there are questions to the participants they should not be AIDS related - that would be stereotyping the community,” she added.

Subramaniam is also planning to hold a contest in November with more stress on the intellectual component.

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