Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Trans Beauty Queen: The "Plight" of the Bumble Bee

Okay, friends, I have to call foul on this one… or at least voice a likely unpopular opinion.  I have been reading a lot of uproar over the news about Miss Universe Canada’s disqualification of contestant Jenna Talackova.  It is apparently prerequisite to entering the competition that contestants actually be born with all the body parts exhibited at competition time… or at least the ones in the genitalia category.  I wonder if there is a similar restriction against nose jobs and breast augmentation… hmm… but back to my complaint.

So, Miss Universe Canada will not allow a girl who was born with male genitals to compete.  I would say that is unfortunate, but really?  Are we really talking about making gains in the fight for trans equality by securing our right to join a beauty contest?  I do not know if I can sign up for that campaign.  I realize that the beauty pageant industry is working hard to establish itself as a beacon of... something or other.  I understand that women all over the world are fighting to demonstrate the value and… er… well.   I watched “Miss Congeniality.”  I know that there are people who want me to think it is about something more than being pretty.  I do not really believe that. 

I cannot help thinking that we might be doing ourselves a favor by simply steering clear of such antiquated and misogynistic exercises.  We could be doing something productive with that time - like watching paint dry.  I am not recommending... or even suggesting the abolition of the beauty pageant.  What else are those super-popular high school girls to strive for if being pretty does not matter? Like, ya know?  I simply believe we could find better ways to invest our collective energy… especially when we dare suggest tragedy in the making.  Ms. Talackova’s “plight,” really?

I would feel differently if we were talking about a victim of violence, or an underprivileged trans woman being denied essential care, or discrimination in the workplace based on gender expression... you know... plight.  Stop right there, no, I do not consider a beauty contest a workplace.  I am sorry.  Sue me.  I digress.  We are not talking about any of those things.  We are talking about an incredibly hot young woman, who will no doubt enjoy endorsement and job offers galore because of this whole episode, and let us not forget we are talking about a beauty contest. 

Where beauty is concerned - the beauty that matters - Ms. Talackova most certainly bested her former Miss Universe rivals by a mile long before she corrected her genital issue.  Getting to where she is involved far more than anorexia, tanning booths, and lessons in “decorum.”  She had to possess a deep inner strength unlike any most will ever have to exhibit.  She had the will to fight to be the person on the outside she knew was inside.  "It's the eye of the tiger, it's the thrill of the fight, rising up to the challenge of our rivals... [opens eyes and puts down hair brush]... oh, sorry.  Where was I?"  She did not get to start out as the pretty girl; she had to earn it.  And she has certainly arrived.

I do not think that Ms. Talackova should be barred from competition based on her sex at birth any more than I believe she was ever truly a boy.  But I also do not believe this is the kind of fight that will bring about real reform in the war for trans equality.  Let us choose our battles wisely.  After all, there are far greater injustices going on around us; injustices that deserve the label “a trans woman’s plight.”  I vote we take a look at some of those.  I vote we stand up for the girl who does not have the gift of outer beauty, the girl who really cannot get a job, or the girl who “deserved” to be bullied for her “queer appearance.”  She needs our help far more than does a burgeoning super model.

Peace, my loves!


  1. Shades of grey and a guilt trip? I wager you're being too harsh and letting your obvious dislike of beauty pageants shade your opinion.

    I think the matter is more about her acceptance as a beautiful woman than as a "transsexual" woman. Losing the adjective, in other words. Being judged on the merits she wants to be judged on, and not on her medical history. She's accomplishing something she wants to do. So what if it's superficial to you or I? It isn't to her, and I think that's what matters.

    And she most certainly is being discriminated against.

  2. Thanks for the comment, Carolyn.

    You illustrate my point perfectly while managing to miss it completely.

    Take an objective look; I never suggested that this organization's treatment of Ms. Talackova was not discriminatory. I believe (as I stated quite clearly) that she should enjoy the same right to compete as any woman. Certainly, I do not hold pageantry in high-regard, but I completely respect a woman's right to pursue her dream. I also stated very clearly my view of Ms. Talackova as a woman (a hot young woman, in fact). I do not need quotation marks to define how I see her. I have the utmost respect for what she has accomplished.

    My point is that we, the trans community, need to think a little more carefully about our emotional responses to these outrages. Yes, I believe this is an outrage, but I do not believe it is a tragedy. If we ever expect to win credibility in the court of public opinion, we need to stop trying to place every anti-trans incident at holocaust severity. Some of the injustices we suffer are certainly worthy of such comparisons, and should garner our deep and fervent outrage.

    But sometimes we might be better served to keep the comparisons of the injustices we face to the plight of genocide victims in war-torn countries to ourselves.

    Seriously, I do appreciate your comment, and I am sorry if you misinterpreted my meaning. Keep reading; perhaps when you get to know me, you will have a little better understanding of my thought process... that is assuming you are open to considering ideas that do not necessarily follow the conventional rhetoric.

    Much love,


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