When it comes to gender equality, Kerala has been taking extra measures towards greater inclusivity for the transgender community. After government jobs and hosting an athletic meet, the state is now gearing up to host the first ever beauty contest for transgenders. The one-of-its-kind beauty pageant will be held in Kochi on June 15.
An initiative by an association of transgenders in Kerala called the Dhwayah Arts and Cultural society, the event is not just about looks and beauty but also about focusing on the empowerment and inclusion of the third gender in the society.
“Our attempt is to bring more transgenders to the mainstream of society and help them find jobs and means of livelihood,” Sheethal Shyam, a transgender activist told The Hindu.
So far, auditions for two regions — Kochi and Malabar have been conducted, and 15 and 11 contestants have been chosen from the two zones respectively.
After preliminary rounds, 27 contestants will participate in the two-day final grooming session in Kochi from May 23. Fifteen among them will be selected for the final beauty competition and the winner will be awarded the ‘Queen of Dhwayah 2017’ title.
The participants went through a grooming session conducted by the renowned make-up artist, Renju Renjimar, and choreographer, Vishwalatha Sudarshan. Talking to Times of India Renjimar said,”The idea is to give trans people more confidence, to be active in the mainstream. Though Kerala has become more trans-friendly on paper, we are still discriminated against. We hope this pageant will help trans people come out of their shells. I’m happy to say that more than 40 transgender people turned up just for the first audition.”
The auditions were judged by Femina Miss India Bangalore 2016, 1st runner-up, Elizabeth Thadikaran, and Fashion choreographer Sunil Menon, the TOI report added. Miss World 2008 1st runner-up, and fbb Colors Femina Miss India 2017 South Zone mentor, Parvathy Omanakuttan and Ranjini Haridas will be the judges for the final round while Shweta Menon will crown the winner.
Though it is the first time that Kerala will be hosting a beauty contest for transgender, it is not the first one in India. Earlier, in 2010, Indian Super Queen pageant was organised in Mumbai to celebrate the beauty and talent of transgender people by activist Laxmi Narayan Tripathi.