Healthcare is a right, not a prize

You wouldnt catch me in a beauty pageant anytime soon, but I don’t knock the women for whom that is a thing they wanna do. But Miss Transgender UK’s first prize of gender confirmation surgery has left me speechless. Jess Bradley writes

A few days ago the Miss Transgender UK facebook page posted an update detailing the first, second, and third prizes for their beauty pageant to be held next week. The first prize is £5000 cash and a £10,000 worth of gender affirmation surgery, the second prize is £1000 cash and one facial feminisation procedure. The third prize is £500 cash and a makeover.

We started Action for Trans Health because we saw so many of our friends having to crowdfunds their transitions. We noticed it always seemed to be the prettiest, the whitest, the most middle class people who achieved their goals the quickest. We set up Action for Trans Health to do things differently. We believe that access to hormones, surgeries and other transition related treatments are basic, necessary, and life-saving. They are not prizes akin to a cruise or an open-top car. Making them prizes just makes our basic healthcare needs seem like luxuries: cosmetic and elective.

Our solidarity fund is overseen by a democratically elected committee who employ an independent funding panel to allocate funds according to who needs it most. This beauty pageant seems to be allocating funds according to who is the prettiest (read: most cis-normative looking?). I cant help but imagine how devastating and dysphoria-inducing it must be to get your hopes up of winning the “prize” to have them dashed because a bunch of strangers judged you to not be attractive enough. A whole bunch of people are desperate for access to trans healthcare, and I don’t blame anyone for entering such a pageant for those reasons, or indeed any other really. But I can’t support the idea of basic healthcare being a “prize” for those seen as most attractive in the service of a profit making venture such as Miss Transgender UK.

Our solidarity fund is just one part of what we do at Action for Trans Health, because we know that for all trans people to have access to healthcare, we need to campaign against the idea that our healthcare is cosmetic and elective. The campaigning work that we have done has been hard work, taking us from picket lines to Parliament and back again. We need more than spectacles offering healthcare to the few, but to build a movement which demands healthcare for the many. We hope that instead of giving money to Miss Transgender UK, you donate to our solidarity fund below… and instead of joining them at their pageant, you join the movement which fights for democratic trans healthcare today.

Help us to provide access to essential healthcare today.

Help us to provide access to essential healthcare today.



5 Replies to “Healthcare is a right, not a prize”

  1. I don’t get the negativity. United we stand divided we fall. I think the TG community should be getting behind Miss TG UK as they do in the equivalent competition in Thailand. If the TG community can’t get behind its own events how can we expect the rest of the population to support us?

    1. Actually, you might find if you look, that there are a whole load of trans people not getting behind this event because it does not represent them and indeed even if it did, it would still be problematic in the way it executes its ‘support’ for the trans community.

      Saying this is ‘our’ event is nonsensical, because it’s actually the event of one person who’s seeking to make a profit.

      In addition to this, many people in the many communities within the trans world are trying to get away from things like ‘Passing’ and heteronormative ideas of beauty because they are damaging to us in the long run.

      Of course it’s great to say “Wow, look who won, is she just not the prettiest person you’ve ever seen, good for her. Good for this competition”

      But then comes the idea that if you don’t look like that, you’re not valid. We have seen it historically. The idea of looking a certain way or of ‘passing’ is so abhorant in nature that it actually causes more problems that it solves because it excludes so many people. It tells trans people and the public that if you do not conform to cis ideals of looks and beauty that you are ‘not real’ or ‘valid’. It stops people from coming out for many years and it contributes to attempted suicide rates. This competition promotes all the wrong things. It cannot be said to be a competition for and on behalf of trans people, or as you said “one of our own events”, because when concerns were raised about how this would affect people in the real world and how much work it would undo, the organiser simply shunned…. EVERYONE and carried on regardless. That is not community.

      The medical issue is another one entirely, which sits atop of this mess of a competition. It is unethical to give surgery as a prize and then to pressure that person to have it before a certain date. It has been slammed by medical professionals in the UK and it has been deemed to be irresponsible because of some of the systems it not just bypasses (which are there to safeguard the patient), but that it complately ignores. Hence why it’s in India.

      It also invalidates people who choose to not have surgery assuming the ultimate goal MUST be surgery.

      Yes the NHS is a problem and this organisation and many others are working on that, however the solution is not to irresponsibly give a coerced prize of surgery.

      Money would have been better and then it could have been used as and when a person wanted, surgery or otherwise!

      The whole thing is a sham.

  2. So one of the best gender surgeons in the world offers surgery for free which in my eyes is extremely generous. Helping one girl no matter how selected is better than no girls!

    The real problem is an average wait of 5.5 years on the NHS. Knock the NHS not people just like you who are trying to make a difference! Shame on you.

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