Now this is a pageant I can get behind

Miss Indian TG Arizona 2007-2009, Ricki Quintero, White Mountain Apache
Who thought a pageant could actually serve the better good? The 2009 Miss Indian Transgender Arizona Pageant is being held in Phoenix on December 13th this year. The pageant is a collaboration of a LGBT individuals, groups and programs within the Native community working to raise awareness around trans people in their community and the issues they’re challenged with.
Love. Check out an interview with Pageant Director Trudie Jackson, and more info about this year’s pageant here.
Via RaceWire.

Join the Conversation

  • Lilith Luffles

    I don’t like to be nitpicky… but really? Miss Indian? I don’t mean to speak for the Native American community and it seems nobody involved in the pageant had any issues with it, but I really don’t find it appropriate to refer to Native and Indigenous people Indian unless they are from India.
    On a happier note, that’s awesome. I really hope that the pageant reaches people in the area and gets them thinking about trans issues and inspires them to better educate themselves.

  • ginasf

    Best of luck to all the participants in the pageant. But Vanessa, just to throw out a question… why is a transgender pageant any different from a pageant for cissexual women? It ultimately objectifies women and fetishes their appearance. Both are ‘meat parades’ and ultimately downplay women’s intelligence. Both sell an unrealistic and negative image of how women’s bodies look. Why is a pageant of trans women different than one for women born women-bodied? If transwomen need to assert their womenhood and get positive affirmation of their woman selves, why should the way they do it be different from cissexual women?
    Unless, somehow, they’re viewed more as drag queens (pretending to be women) and not as real woman who are trans? Tossing that quandry out… I’d like to hear opinions on it.

  • ginasf

    My other question is… do beauty pageants actually raise awareness of marginalized communities? Are there other ways Native American Transwomen could raise awareness other than beauty pageants? Have beauty pageants ever actually positively affected change for the women involved in them (other than prize money or scholarships for the few pageants which give them)? Are their other ways those women could achieve or even surpass the same goals without being in beauty pageants? I don’t deny the participants enjoy being in pageants, but I do have questions about how pageants ultimately impact how marginalized groups are viewed by the larger society.

  • Ohmymaybee


  • lovelyliz

    Hmm. I always have a problem with beauty pageants, even if they promote good ideas and causes.
    Are the judges judging based solely on looks? Just curious.

  • Laurenms

    Thanks for posting this. It’s nice to see something on feministing about one of the many awesome things happening in a Native community.

  • ginasf

    Why is this pageant good whereas other pageants are bad? How does this not objectify women differently than any other pageant does? Transwomen are fetishized and objectified in much the same way as cis-women are and are attacked, raped and prostituted even more. I’ve seen no proof that such pageants actually result in increased awareness much less acceptance of marginalized communities. if one is looking for respect (and womanhood), you don’t have to be treated like a piece of meat to do so. The contestants have a right to participate but let’s not pretend it’s somehow fine because “these really aren’t women” whereas pageants featuring ciswomen are exploitive. They both are.

  • sillyrabbitgendersforkids

    This is a case of such a pageant serving a greater good in allowing greater awareness. Pageants by and large are opportunities for reinforcing, or renorming, the gender illusion, so this is positive no matter the community involved. However there are some pageants, well at least one that I am referring to, that are not about enforcing gender through physical comparison. The Ms. Navajo Nation pageant has evolved into a cultural rather than objectifying pageant. The winners, and runners up, are all scions of maintaining a living culture in the face of an agressive majority culture. Anyway, there are others, but yes, for the most part such pageants are all incredibly damaging in supporting the concept of gender.

  • ginasf

    I think this pageant seems to reinforce the gender illusion. Typically, these trans-related pageants are all about passing (and frequently encouraging the use of dangerous injectible silicone as a method of body alteration). You don’t see trans women who don’t at all pass winning or even being a finalist in these pageants. Who’s to say what’s cultural vs. objectifying (admittedly, including myself). There are many non-objectifying ways to honor the beauty, talents and womanhood of Native transwomen other than yet another meat parade. Beauty pageants are not a real part of Navajo culture, they’re an import from the dominant white society (and granted, these participants usually can’t be in cisgender pageants) how does something like this actually maintain living culture if it’s from the oppressor’s culture? I’m just asking why is there a totally different standard concerning pageants for trans and cis women… unless there’s some kind of underlying statement that transwomen aren’t really women and therefore, don’t fall under the same kinds of objectification and fetishization as ciswomen—which, by the way, isn’t the case.

  • lovelyliz

    I have to agree with ginasf.
    I totally would support a talent contest – but a pageant still reinforces the stereotypical “look” that women are expected by the media to possess.
    Still a pageant, and I really can’t get behind that.


    Considering this is an event organized by and for Native American folks, and they freely chose to call it an Indian event, obviously they don’t find the term offensive.
    I would trust their judgment on this matter – being as, after all, they are Indians and I am not.

  • olga

    The word “Indian” is used widely by Native Americans and some First Nations and Alaska Native groups. I would leave it to them what they want to call themselves. In my experience, the word “Indigenous” is not very popular among these groups.
    More importantly, I agree with ginasf. What is good about this beauty pageant? Judging men, women, transgender men, transgender women based on their looks is inappropriate regardless of cultural context; if Vanessa’s point is that this is a “native” pageant, then I have a racial problem with this. Judging men and women from different cultural groups based on their looks is inappropriate regardless of gender identity; if Vanessa’s point is that this is a transgender pageant, then I have a gender-ial problem with this.
    Mind you, if someone wants to participate in a pageant of whatever gender or cultural scope, fine with me. I find pageants harmful, but I also find driving a car harmful, and people have to make their own decisions. But approve this pageant either for racial or for gender-ial reasons? No.
    Now, here may be the good thing pointed out by this article: Many native american groups have a more relaxed attitude to gender identity than our own culture. THAT is a good thing. The pageant, IMHO, isn’t.
    (Feel free to correct me on a proper adjective for “gender”, I don’t intend to step on any toes here)

  • DeafBrownTrash

    I’m Indian (from India) and I’m always offended by Native Americans using the term “Indian” to describe themselves.