Monday, February 09, 2009

Miss Brazil Transsex Pageant 2008

The Thais proudly state that they have the most beautiful transwomen in the world, and have frequent pageants in the 'Land of Smiles' to prove it. But the Brazilians would vehemently argue that point.

Here are some photos from the 2008 Miss Brazil Transsex Pageant held a few months ago. The winner, Fernanda Lima was supposed to go on to compete as Brazil's representative in the Miss International Queen Pageant held in Pattaya at Tiffany's Cabaret, but that pageant eventually got postponed due to the political crisis that was raging in Thailand at the time.

So we'll have to wait a few months to see the 2009 version of the Miss International Queen Pageant to get the resolution to the question of who has the world's most beautiful transwomen.















17 comments:

ginasf said...

It's a silly thing to 'argue' about, but I find the Transwomen in Brazil have a great reliance on using copious amounts of injectable silicone. Some of this is cultural, since Brazilian society puts such a great beauty emphasis on curviness and a woman's derriere, but I admit I don't find it in the least appealing. Roberta Close is beautiful, many of the other ones seem like an almost cartoon version of womanhood. But that's my aesthetic—for me there's nothing less sexy than someone desperate to look sexy.

Monica Roberts said...

Gina,
It's a victory in some parts of the world if we can even host these pageants without incident

There was one in Malaysia fundie Muslims interfered with and one in the Dominican Republic that was threatened and denounced by local politicians.

ginasf said...

Monica, in my (probably very unpopular) opinion, I would like to see transwomen concern themselves less with pageants and more with social activism, and education. These pageants objectify both cis- and trans-women, promote the use of indictable silicone (a health scourge in our community) and points young women in the wrong direction to look for self-esteem, an affirmation of their beauty and strong womanly spirits. We can be beautiful doing many more positive things in this world.

PinayTG said...

Gina there is no one way to be anything in this world. We should all know by now that we can be activists and still look like beauty queens or be beauty queens and still hold on to our activist convictions. The point is that you can be one, both, or neither and THAT should be okay.

The most important thing is for you to accord yourself dignity and so treat others with the kind of respect with which you'd like to be treated.

ginasf said...

Pinay,
I would never say someone shouldn't have the right to persue beauty pageants, rather than I just wish they wouldn't. Either we're going to be women or not. If we're going to be women and continue to push a hyper-objectified, hyper-sexualized version of what transwomen are, then I don't feel that's a positive thing. Yes, I know there are people out there who feel they have no alternative but to do sexwork/porn, and I can be supportive about their need to survive, but not positive about the messages they're sending out to the larger community of women. I still stand by my statement there are too many younger transwomen who are obsessed with pageants and trying to look super-sexy in an attempt to find self-esteem (and pumping a whole hecka silicone), and I wish they would search for those good feelings in other endeavors. It will better connect us to the wider community of women and will help ourselves more in the long run.

Monica Roberts said...

Gina,
I have to point out that the late Coccinelle, the French version of Christine Jorgensen, not only performed at the Paris' transgender cabarets, but was an activist for French transwomen. French transwomen owe many of the rights they enjoy to her.

Some of our most effective spokepeople did time in the pageant circuit.

Pageants are not all bad. If they teach self esteem and instill self confidence, there's nothing wrong with them. We can also use pageants as opportunities to have 'teachable moments' with the rest of society and dispel many myths about us.

ginasf said...

Monica, Coccinelle was at her peak exactly a half century ago! Different world, different times. Miss America and Miss Universe are mere shadows of what they once were and it's time for trans pageants to follow suit. Yes, Nong Poy is lovely, but I hope she has something else to offer the world other than the novelty of "oh, she's trans and pretty and looks like a 'real' girl." (btw, pageants tend to also live by strict rules of white/light skinned is pretty, dark/overly ethnic isn't, do they not?) Pageants perpetuate more myths than dispel them. Most importantly, they give the world the impression transwomen have no idea how 'actual' women live, act, dress, they're really just medicalized drag queens. Sorry, I don't need that representing me. Their time is so done.

Monica Roberts said...

Gina,
You said the key words in your last comment when you stated 'I don't need that representing me.'

I know people who used the pageant route in order to find an acceptable way of transitioning under the nose of family members who would have disapproved of a regular transition. But when that child is snatching trophies left right and center, that changes.

Pageants (and by extension the ballroom community) in the AA community are looked at in a multilayered manner. Black women's beauty is belittled, denigrated and devalued, so one response to that was creating the Miss Black America Pageant in 1971.

There's a former Miss Black America contestant that runs a media empire you probably heard of. Her last name is Winfrey.

ginasf said...

"Black women's beauty is belittled, denigrated and devalued, so one response to that was creating the Miss Black America Pageant in 1971.
There's a former Miss Black America contestant that runs a media empire you probably heard of. Her last name is Winfrey."

Monica, I would never suggest the women competing in pageants aren't capable of doing wonderful things. But for every Vanessa WIlliams, there are thousands who've placed all their hopes on pageants as a way to feel good about themselves and that's, pretty much, the pinnacle of their lives. More importantly, they're convinced that's all they're good for. I'm aware pageants hold different places within different communities, but can you deny pageants almost always reinforce a certain mainstream (white/European) ideas of beauty? How many Miss Black America's have had unprocessed hair, broad noses or really dark skin? How about the Miss Tiffany pageant where (a rather long in the tooth) Mimi Marks competes against numerous young, gorgeous Thai transwomen and, surprise, surprise... wins!!?? Yeah, right! What positive message did that send? I think what will help young transitioners more than competing in pageants is to be able to point to role models and more and more exposure to transwomen who made something positive of their lives (and yes, didn't end up in sexwork all pumped up). Transwomen can be very sexy, but the obsession with looking hyper-sexy in an attempt to find validation is pretty much a dead end for either trans or cis-gender women.

PinayTG said...

Sorry Gina but I'm a little disturbed by your thinking that being hyper-feminine and hyper-sexualized equal low self-esteem and an incapacity for intellectual pursuit and activism. That is your own transphobia talking. And I don't mean ill toward you but if you take a moment to reflect you will realize that you are imposing your middle-class sensibilities on people who may not share the same values as you. That does not mean their values are any less.

Essentially, you look down on women who do pageants and do sex work making it their fault that the bigger society looks down on our community. There is something wrong with that analysis. Are you sure this is now your own body- and sex-negativity speaking?

This is identity politics all over again and really a step backward. Whatever happened to be who ever you want to be as long as you're not stepping on anybody's toes and not doing harm to yourself?

ginasf said...

TransPinay:
"Sorry Gina but I'm a little disturbed by your thinking that being hyper-feminine and hyper-sexualized equal low self-esteem and an incapacity for intellectual pursuit and activism. "

They are a projection of male dominance on women. Just because we're transwomen doesn't change that or excuse that behavior. I never said women involved in sexwork can't be valuable activists (such as Sylvia Rivera), but I do say they could do more positive activities for their larger society than to fulfill kinky male fantasies about women with penises. If ya gotta eat and that's the only way, I would NEVER criticize anyone for doing sexwork. But don't expect me to be cool with it, what with the violence, murder, HIV transmission and widespread use of injectable silicone. I have a 12-year old daughter and no way would I want her involved in sexwork.

"you are imposing your middle-class sensibilities on people who may not share the same values as you. "

And you're projecting your values onto all Filipinos and people of color (and I live in an area with the largest concentration of Pinoys in the US) the majority of which, I know, are NOT cool with their daughters parading around in sexy outfits, slathering on makeup or doing sexwork. Nice try.

"Essentially, you look down on women who do pageants and do sex work making it their fault that the bigger society looks down on our community."

Read what I've said and you'll understand I DO NOT look down on these women, that's your own low self-esteem talking. I would prefer they not present themselves in ways that don't objectify transwomen. I would prefer cisgender women not project themselves in ways that objectify women. No difference. You're the one playing into male stereotypes (and subsequent oppression) of transwomen.

Now what I do look down on are transwomen who describe themselves as "shemales, or trannies" just to make a buck and play into male objectification of themselves and I also seriously wish that a lot of women in our community stop acting like sexed up teenage girls and start acting like women. Shocking, huh?! Respect is catching. When you act like an adult people start treating you that way. See, I hold transwomen to the same standards I would use for my own daughter.

PinayTG said...

Gina, although those were not the points that I wanted you to answer let me summarize your thoughts so far:
1. There is a right way and a wrong way to be a woman. And in your world the right way is not to be hyper-feminine.

2. Being hyper-feminine is actually the handiwork of the patriarchy and a transwoman's way to find validation.

3. Respect is not something naturally given to people. It must be earned. And those who do not deserve it include those who are, in your words, "parading around in sexy outfits, slathering on makeup or doing sexwork."

I have heard all these arguments before and not surprisingly from a butch lesbian feminist who thinks she is the authority on what it means to be a woman. And yes, she does not think that trans woman are women.

So first of all, who do you think you are to say what is the right way to be a woman? Even cisgender women friends of mine are stumped when I ask them that question. And you know why? Because there is none.

So I have cisgender women friends who range from the hyper-feminine to the butch. So if we follow your logic being butch is not the right way to be a woman either right?

The problem with your argument is that you are imposing what in your opinion constitutes womanhood. But womanhood is expressed in so many ways and if you want to look conservative, that is fine. That does not give you the right to say that yours MUST be the right way to express femininity. Hell I do office work and my clothes are very conservative I WILL NEVER SAY THAT THIS MUST BE THE RIGHT WAY TO BE A WOMAN and no I will not ask you to dress sexily (even if I dress sexily on occasion) either because you clearly detest that. I will leave you be. See the difference?

Patriarchy is always the most convenient scapegoat for all our woes. Well I have news for you, in rad fem circles you are an agent of the patriarchy. No matter what you say your gender identity is, to some radical feminists you will always be man, who is raping women by becoming a woman.

My point is, transwomen are demonized enough by society at large and equally by transphobic gays and lesbians, shall we add to the mix?

Going back to your argument, are you saying that a woman who dresses sexily and looks ultra-feminine can not be empowered, conscious and progressive? Therefore, only women who dress conservatively must be empowered, conscious and progressive, right?

WRONG! Just take a small sample of women politicians and you will realize that many of them dress conservatively and yet they have the worst points of view when in comes to LGBT rights and equality.

As well, I have hyper-feminine trans women friends who excel and hold high-paying positions in such diverse fields as human relations, marketing, education, etc. How do you explain that phenomena?

People who think that respect is not something you accord to people but should be worked on to be earned by those same people have no right to be activists.

ginasf said...

TransPinay,
Since we obviously disagree, let's get back to the original thread. Take a look at the images at the beauty contest in Brazil. Look at women who are successful in the world (at something other than being pinup girls, sex workers or porn stars) and you won't see working women who look like that with their boobs hanging out.

I'm well aware of RadFem circles. I agree with some of what they say and disagree with other opinions. They aren't a monolithic group any more than transwomen are. I don't care if they view me as an agent of the patriarchy or not, I know the patriarchy exists and I know how it uses highly sexualized images of ciswomen and transwomen to maintain power.

There isn't a right way or wrong way to be a woman, but there is definitely a wrong way to present transwomen as sexually objectified objects. As I said, if you need to do that to feed and house yourself, do what you need to do. But don't expect me to like how it reflects on other transwomen. And I'm also sick of having our beauty always framed in that. It's not an accurate representation of transwomen.

"Going back to your argument, are you saying that a woman who dresses sexily and looks ultra-feminine can not be empowered, conscious and progressive? Therefore, only women who dress conservatively must be empowered, conscious and progressive, right?"

This is a very black/white way of putting it. Yes, I believe someone who walks around in skimpy outfits with their boobs hanging out will not be empowered or conscious, nor taken seriously. i can't speak for their progressiveness. Just because a woman doesn't dress like a glam hooker doesn't mean she's dressed 'conservatively'. A woman can dress in a way that includes sensuality without looking like a pinup or a sex worker. In fact, I think most women manage to do that very well.

People judge you by your behavior, like it or not, fair or not. Moreover, when transwomen present themselves in objectified ways that the vast majority of women don't, they marginalize themselves like it or not. Perhaps you should ask your friends about that.

PinayTG said...

Gina indeed we disagree but I will not concede that yours is the correct way of thinking. The reason why the women in the pics look like that is because they are in a beauty pageant!

Look at any beauty pageant for trans- and cis-gender women, you will find similarities there. What I'm pointing out to you is just because these women are in pageants does not mean they are incapable of succeeding in other fields. And just because it's a beauty pageant does not mean you cannot do advocacy work.

In the Philippines, we use pageants to tackle issues like discrimination and gender-based oppression. And now even leftists groups use beauty pageants for transwomen to reach vast numbers of voters. Why? Because pageants sell and are popular among the people.

And I don't agree with your view that women who dress sexily are asking to be objectified. This is like saying that a scantily dressed woman deserved to be raped because her clothing provoked it. We will be objectified whatever clothes we wear and no matter how well we do in our fields because there will always be people who will sexualize us whether we like or not. Being aware of that and knowing how to counter its effects are more important that toning down because of someone's idea of how you should dress or not.

In the end, I hope you will give people the right to self-determination. If women want to do sex work and dress sexily either by choice or not, that's their right.

If women want to shape their bodies using silicone even if they know the risks, let them. There is such a thing called bodily integrity. In the end it's the person and not us who will decide on what to do with her body or her life.

And yes you have no right to judge them either!

ginasf said...

PTG: "And I don't agree with your view that women who dress sexily are asking to be objectified."

I wouldn't know if they're asking to be objectified, but I do know they're buying into the objectification. No, they aren't responsible for the objectification, but they are acquiescing to it.

"This is like saying that a scantily dressed woman deserved to be raped because her clothing provoked it."

Not the same at all. Rape is an act of violence. (although I guess it could be said that objectification is an act of cultural violence). But what the behavior does do is act out the role of sexual victim/commodity they've been plugged into. You can either choose to play into that or to resist it and refuse to play along.

I obviously can't talk about how beauty pageants are used by the left in your country, but I can talk about their place in San Francisco (where a lot of contestants tend to be Trans-Pinays or Latinas. They are often fixed, are extremely expensive to participate in (between high entry fees and clothes) and do little to connect the larger community to transwomen except to see how desperate the participants are for approval. Nor do they really promote any talents for the girls who've entered them. As I said, they certainly have a right to do this activity, I'm just sick of it somehow representing our community. We can do better.

As to Silicone... no dear. Not okay. If you've ever seen women who've developed large tumors and granulomas on their body due to silicone use or who've had to have it scraped out of their breasts or hips severely disfiguring them, then you wouldn't be so cavalier about it. And yes, this sometimes takes several years to destroy the immune system of the person who's been injected. Would you tell the mother of a girl who died from injectable silicone which migrated to her lungs that what her daughter did was okay? And the reality is... to compete in most of these pageants, you HAVE to be pumped. So, sorry PTG, I will judge and and the deaths and disfigurement from silicone will go right on happening anyway.

PinayTG said...

Gina,I have seen women disfigured by injectible silicone. I do not condone it, speak against it and warn as many people as I can about it. At the end of the day though, no matter what you say, no matter how much you try to convince them, people will still pump it into their bodies. Still, I will not judge them.

This is the last I will say on this. You will clearly believe what you want. And you will not change the way I think. But thank you for keeping the conversation going. Till next time. I wish you well.

ginasf said...

PTG:

And I believe you're a wonderful role model for young TransPinays even if we disagree! Thank you for the spirited discussion :-)