Transgender beauty pageant under fire for offering gender surgery as a ‘prize’

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

A transgender beauty pageant is under fire, after offering the winner all-expenses-paid gender reassignment surgery in India.

The Miss Transgender UK pageant, which is set to take place later this month, was set to be hosted by former boxing promoter and UKIP candidate Kellie Maloney. However, Ms Maloney told PinkNews she dropped out of the event and was not associated with Miss Transgender UK.

The London pageant sees a number of trans girls competing for the title and a £5000 cash prize – but another winner’s perk has attracted attention.

The pageant will also offer winners a voucher for an all-inclusive trip to a surgical clinic in India, where they can undergo free gender reassignment.

The competition states: “The winner will be awarded a voucher for full gender correction surgery at the Transgender Surgery Institute, New Delhi, India inclusive of all hospital, travel and accommodation costs worth over £10,000 (British equivalent). The voucher will be valid until 31 March 2016.

“If the winner has already undergone gender correction surgery other treatments can be substituted at the discretion of Dr Narendra Kaushik, which may include body sculpting, breast augmentation, hair implants or other feminising procedures.”

However, the move has not gone down well among trans activists, many of whom say that offering gender surgery as a ‘prize’ does not send a good message.

Jess Bradley of Action for Trans Health – a group that raises funds to help trans people cover their healthcare costs – spoke out against tthe pageant.

The campaigner, who spoke before Parliament about trans healthcare earlier this month, wrote: “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.

“We set up Action for Trans Health to do things differently. We believe that access to hormones, surgeries and other transition related treatments are basic, necessary, and life-saving.

“They are not prizes akin to a cruise or an open-top car. Making them prizes just makes our basic healthcare needs seem like luxuries: cosmetic and elective.”

The campaigner added: “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.

“A whole bunch of people are desperate for access to trans healthcare, and I don’t blame anyone for entering such a pageant for those reasons, or indeed any other really.

“But 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.”

However, the pageant’s organisers say the prize gives people who have not yet had surgery the means to do so.

The pageant will take place on September 27.