India's first-ever talent hunt for transgenders
After fighting for equal rights in employment and voting, transgenders across the country are all set to take part in a first-of-its-kind talent hunt in Delhi on February 21.
Credit for the concept goes to one of the Indian transgender community's most prominent members Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, who is also the founder of the Asia Pacific Transgender Network and the only transgender representative of the UN's Civil Society Task Force on HIV/AIDS. She came up with the idea for the contest five years ago, but could not garner enough support to see it through.
Image: Members of the transgender community sashay down the ramp at a press conference held in Mumbai yesterday
Photographs: Pradeep Bandekar
Decriminalisation of homosexuality goes a long way
After the Delhi High Court repealed Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code and decriminalised homosexuality last year, however, Tripathi was able to organise the Indian Super Queen 2010 pageant using her own initiative Twelve Noon Entertainment, in association with Vcare, a diversified business conglomerate.
In fact, this is the second Indian pageant for transgenders within the last two months. On December 19, 2009, the first ever Miss India Transgender Pageant was held in Chennai and saw 120 transgenders between the ages of 20 to 35 participate, representing different states like Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra.
Image: Laxmi Narayan Tripathi and actress Celina Jaitley share a light moment
Finalists to be groomed just like in conventional pageants
And now the Indian transgender community is gearing up for the Indian Super Queen 2010 contest -- auditions for the same will start on January 13, across ten cities. Thirty contestants will be chosen as semi-finalists, but only 12 will make it to the finals.
These finalists will then be groomed in the days leading up to the pageant, much like in conventional pageants. The winner and runners-up stand to win cash prizes of Rs 10 lakh, 8 lakh and 5 lakh respectively; they will also become honorary ambassadors of the Indian transgender community.
Image: Laxmi addresses the conference alongside her supporters
'We are treated badly'
Addressing a press conference in Mumbai yesterday, Tripathi said, "The pageant is the best means to draw attention to the existence and travails of my people. To some extent, society has accepted gays and lesbians. But we are treated badly. This contest will bring the community together and will create a positive vibe among them."
The press conference was also attended by actress Celina Jaitley, who is an ardent activist of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community and offered a glimpse of what is in store on February 21, as various transgenders dressed to the nines sashayed down a ramp and preened for the cameras.
Image: Contest hopefuls line up for the cameras