The winner of the UK’s first ever Miss Transgender title has hit back after she was stripped of her title for being “not transgender enough”.
Jai Dara Latto, from Walkerburn in the Scottish borders, was crowned Miss Transgender UK at the inaugural national pageant in London last September.
However, Rachael Bailey, who is both the founder and organiser of the Miss Transgender UK pageant, has revoked Jai’s title after claiming to see video footage confirming she was “not living as a woman full-time”.
The video footage in question was captured as part of a BBC3 documentary, and shows Jai at home wearning boxer shorts and working out in a gym wearing shorts and a T-shirt. The pageant organiser determined that this proved Jai was not a “full-time” woman but a “drag queen”.
Ms Bailey explained: “Underwear is very important to transgender females – one of the first thing people do is change their underwear as it makes us feel like we are finally a woman.”
The pageant has already proved controversial on account of its main prize – £10,000 of reassignment surgery in India – and the alleged “appropriation” of the memory of the deceased trans teenager Leelah Alcorn. The latest development raises questions about how the pageant organisers view transgender identity and how accepting they are of different expressions of femininity.
Jai has hit back at the pageant, insisting that she has already started hormone treatment and is living as a woman. She has now severed all ties with Miss Transgender UK and said that she will not be forced into promoting “grotesque stereotypes”.
Jai told KaleidoScot: “The accusations about me not being full time, and not living my everyday life in the gender that I identify with, came about after Rachael Bailey had viewed the still to be screened BBC 3 documentary about the girls of Miss Transgender UK 2015. She requested that I go back to the production company to have certain scenes removed – scenes where I am relaxing at home in a pair of boxers and also a scene where I am at the gym. The scenes according to Rachael could be ‘damaging to the competition, her organisation and to me as an individual’.
“I categorically stated that the documentary would not be re-edited to take out these scenes. The accusation that I have broken terms and conditions of MTUK 2015 by not being ‘full time’ seems to me based on Rachael’s subjective opinion from having viewed the documentary and her own idea of what makes a transgender person female. Apparently it’s throwing away the boxers pulling on a pair of women’s pants because it ‘makes us feel like we are finally a woman’.
“Everyone transitions in a different way and if changing underwear was important to her then I respect that but for me it’s not. I also won’t stop doing what she seems to define as stereotypical male activities such as going to the gym. Why should I?”
Jai continued: “[Rachael Bailey] stated in the Scotsman that saying “‘You’re not transgender enough to be in our competition’ sounds daft” – well, not only does it sound daft but more importantly it’s discrimination. What makes a woman? Do I have to conform to what Rachael Bailey defines as a woman? Do I have to dress and act in a way that conforms to her female stereotypes? Wearing women’s underwear, wigs, lip stick and getting my nails done? In my opinion these things do not make a woman. I will not be reduced to a Caitlyn Jenner stereotype in order to hold a pageant title.
“I will continue to do what is right for me and transition at my own pace and continue to be honest with others about my gender. Being Transgender is not some exclusive club. There are many of us in it and we are all different from one another. I know my truth. Rachael’s female identity is not my female identity. My female identity is not anyone’s to mould to fit a stereotype. I have my truth and my female identity, and all I ask is that people respect mine as I respect theirs.”
Jai has pledged to continue her charitable work with the Scottish Transgender Alliance and other LGBTI organisations. In April she will be undertaking a 30 mile hike in high heels to raise money for various charities and to highlight some of the issues facing transgender people.