Queen of Dhwayah, Kerala’s first Transgender beauty pageant

Queen of Dhwayah
Queen of Dhwayah
The impeccable Elizabeth Thadikaran in the sky blue Sari sits surrounded by preliminary contestants. Photo Elizabeth Thadikaran Facebook

While not India’s first beauty pageant, the upcoming crowning of the “Queen of Dhwayah 2017” in Kerala has many people taking notice but tragically some are pushing back by attacking transgender residents.

The auditions were judged by Femina Miss India Bangalore 2016, 1st runner-up, Elizabeth Thadikaran, and Fashion choreographer Sunil Menon, the TOI report added. Miss World 2008 1st runner-up, and fbb Colors Femina Miss India 2017 South Zone mentor, Parvathy Omanakuttan and Ranjini Haridas will be the judges for the final round while Shweta Menon will crown the winner.

Queen of Dhwayah
The beautiful and talented transgender woman of Kerala.

The Queen of Dhwayah 2017 will be chosen on June 15 in the south west city of Kochi in the state of Kerala, India. While the event has remained off the radar over seas it is a huge step forward for the community. Kerala recently made history by hosting 130 athletes in India’s first transgender athletic competitions a very visible Idahot 2017 and was the first state to institute a transgender policy.

The Indian Express reports that an initiative by an association of transgenders in Kerala called the Dhwayah Arts and Cultural society, the event is not just about looks and beauty but also about focusing on the empowerment and inclusion of the third gender in the society.

“Our attempt is to bring more transgenders to the mainstream of society and help them find jobs and means of livelihood,” Sheethal Shyam, a transgender activist told The Hindu.

True to form when a minority makes gains in equality there will always be push back, many times manifesting in verbal and physical assaults.

Queen of Dhwayah
Actress Surya Abhi (center) on set yesterday. Photo Surya Abhi Facebook.

In May 2016, Surya Abhi was one of the first openly transgender persons in Kerala to cast her vote in an Assembly election. She got a voter ID that identified her as a woman, and was elated with the fact that she could vote as herself, finally.

Two days ago, the same person had to face what she called the saddest incident of her life, when she was attacked in public in Thiruvananthapuram, simply for being there.

In a Facebook post, translated by The News Miniute the cine and serial actor and activist wrote, “I was waiting for a bus at the PMG Junction, when three persons tried to attack me. None of the people who were at the bus stop responded to my cries for help. I screamed, and a police patrol team heard me. But by the time they reached the spot, my attackers had fled the place.”

Surya thanked the police officers who dropped her home safely after the incident. But for the people who refused to help her while she was in distress – and for the society at large – she did not have any kind words.

In her emotional post, Surya wrote, “I spit on the ugly society which stood silent when a woman was attacked. If you believe that I’m a sex worker, stop thinking so. I make a living by doing dignified work.”

“It is a myth, an old story, that all transgender persons are sex workers. If anyone approaches us with that attitude, they will have to face the music,” she added.

Currently at a shooting location, Surya was not available for comment. She conveyed through her friends however that she doesn’t want to speak about the incident as she fears it would affect her work.


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Kelli, Busey is managing editor at Planet Transgender


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