In a country where the business of generating beauty pageant winners is taken all too seriously, Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, a member of the transgender community, has embarked on generating a title that India is not yet familiar with, the Indian Super Queen 2010.
On Monday, Tripathi announced the first ever hunt for the most talented transgender through the Indian Super Queen 2010 contest, a bold and historic move for a marginalised sexual minority.
“The pageant is the best means to draw attention to the existence and travails of my people,” said Tripathi, a eunuch who has been fighting for the rights and respect of the global transgender community.
The ambassador of the Indian transgenders, Tripathi had conceived of the emancipatory pageant five years ago, but couldn’t garner enough support to stage the venture, until after the recent ruling by the Delhi High Court to repeal Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code and reinstate gay rights in India.
Of the 30 contestants chosen as semi-finalists from auditions in 10 cities, 12 will be chosen for the finals to be held on February 21, in Delhi. The finalists will be subjected to 10 days of intense grooming on matters of diction, personal hygiene, public speaking and corporate responsibility. While auditions are yet to begin, the contest already feels like a victory to Tripathi, founding member of the Asia Pacific Transgender Network. “We are treated as an invisible community. I want this to be a platform for hijras to talk about beauty, womanhood and show the world that these are concerns for us too.”
Wearing layers of makeup, their finest vestments and faux crowns, members of the transgender community paraded down a ramp providing a glimpse of what this novel showcase would hold.
Actor Celina Jaitley, an ambassador of the LGBT community in India, got misty eyed while expressing her immense pride at this milestone. “When I was crowned Miss India we were sworn under the oath of beauty with a purpose. I’ve achieved that purpose today. We have fought long for this and today India can claim to be the world’s largest democracy,” Jaitley said.
Winners of the pageant will receive cash prizes worth Rs 10 lakh, Rs 8 lakh and Rs 5 lakh and will thereafter serve as the public representatives of a community that is clamouring to be recognised.
Contestants will be judged on how comfortable they are with expressing their sexuality, talent and beauty. “I would like the President, Prime Minister and Sonia and Rahul Gandhi to attend the pageant. Their presence will help reinforce our identities as equal citizens of this country,” said Tripathi, the only transgender to represent the UN's Civil Society Task Force on HIV/AIDS.