A transgender beauty pageant hosted by former UKIP candidate Kellie Maloney has upset transgender campaigners (nothing new there) for offering cosmetic, or “gender-reassignment,” surgery as a prize. Critics argue that surgery should be a “right” and “basic health care” rather than a contested bonus.
Miss Transgender UK is the first national pageant of its type in Britain and currently the subject of a BBC documentary.
The prize this year is £5000 in cash and, “a voucher for full gender correction surgery at the Transgender Surgery Institute, New Delhi, India inclusive of all (sic) hospital, travel and accommodation costs worth over £10,000.”
The competition website adds: “If the winner has already undergone gender correction surgery other treatments can be substituted… which may include body sculpting, breast augmentation, hair implants or other feminising procedures.”
However, activist Jess Bradley, who recently gave evidence to the government’s transgender equality enquiry, wrote a disgruntled blog post called “Healthcare is a right, not a prize,” arguing that voucher sent out the wrong message.
“I can’t support the idea of basic healthcare being a ‘prize’ for those seen as most attractive in the service of a profit making venture such as Miss Transgender UK,” she wrote.
Part of the issue, she claims, is that the beauty standards on which the competition is judged against are the beauty standards of privileged and non-transgendered people – so-call “cis-gendered” or “cis-normative” people.
“We started Action for Trans Health because we saw so many of our friends having to crowdfunds their transitions. We noticed it always seemed to be the prettiest, the whitest, the most middle class people who achieved their goals the quickest,” complained Bradley.
Explaining: “This beauty pageant seems to be allocating funds according to who is the prettiest (read: most cis-normative looking?). I cant help but imagine how devastating and dysphoria-inducing it must be to get your hopes up of winning the “prize” to have them dashed because a bunch of strangers judged you to not be attractive enough.”
However, in July this year, ex-boxing promoter and UKIP candidate Kellie (previous Frank) Maloney – who is due to present the pageant – argued that the competition was “not all about beauty” but what the winner could contribute to “transgender issues.”
The pageant’s organisers have argued that the prize gives people who have not yet had surgery the means to do so. The waiting list for “gender-reassignment” surgery on the NHS is around three years and a staggering 85 per cent of doctors do not think public money should be spent on “life style choices” and cosmetic surgery.