The three events were a great way to develop my transgender project and network within the community to find other people to work with in terms of my photography.
I found the whole process a rather bizarre, over-hyped environment where transgender women were, no matter what the pageant claimed, trying to conform to a patriarchal stereotype of what a woman should be. The more ‘womanly’ the transgender person appeared, the more likely they were to progress through the pageant. The competitive nature of the pageant created friction and tension between contestants, where I personally feel, within a minority of marginalised people, there should be support and care being developed amongst the group.
I do see the other side, whereby, this is a platform for transgender women to take a stand, tell their story and for people to listen. The media related to the documentary that was created has been sensational, but it has not always been the positive coverage that the community hoped for.
It has been fascinating to observe the pageant, the desires and hopes of the transgender women to be accepted, adored and validated as ‘real’ women. It is a human instinct to feel we belong and are correct in our behaviour in society.
Since the Pageant I have worked with two women and I am in constant contact with numerous contestants, for research and possible future shoots. I hope to further my work with them, getting to know the off-stage individual, behind the glitter and glam.