Last year 23 year old transgender woman Jai Dara Latto, from Walkerburn in Scotland, was crowned as the winner of the Miss Transgender UK competition. Now, however, she has been stripped of her title by the woman who runs Mis Transgender UK, Rachael Bailey, after claiming that Jai is not infact transgender.
The accusations come following Miss Bailey claiming to have seen footage of Jai from an upcoming BBC3 documentary, to air next month, in which Jai is filmed at home relaxing in a pair of boxer shorts and being seen working out at the gym in shorts and a t-shirt.
Miss Bailey claims that this is proof that Jai is not living her life full time as a woman, instead branding her as a drag queen.
Speaking to the Scotsman, Miss Bailey said ‘When Jai entered the competition, she said that she was full time and she’s not – she’s a drag queen. The documentary showed her living as a gay male in her boxer shorts. Underwear is very important to transgender females – one of the first things people do is change their underwear as it makes us feel like we are finally a woman.’
‘When I confronted her, she just said that I didn’t have a leg to stand on and it is difficult. It is basically one transgender person saying to another ‘You’re not transgender enough to be in our competition’. It sounds daft when you put it like that.’
In addition to winning the title Jai was given a £3,000 modelling contract, which has also been taken away from her and awarded to another contestant, a £5,000 cash prize, and £10,000 worth of surgery in India. Jai has already turned down the prize of surgery, wishing to wait for gender confirmation surgery on the NHS.
Jai has said that she was approached by Miss Bailey, who claimed that she had broken the terms and conditions of the competition by not being ‘full time’.
She went on to say that, ‘I am transgender. It seems to me that Rachael has based her claims on her subjective information from having viewed the documentary Miss Transgender, which is yet to be aired. I gave consideration to sharing a letter from my doctor on my gender dysphoria, but decided against it.’
‘The documentary clearly shows me living full time in my community, functioning on a daily basis, interacting with family, friends and others in my desired gender role. Being transgender is not some exclusive club. There are many of us in it and we are all different from one another.’
Rachael Bailey’s fixation that only a certain way of dressing or presenting is what makes someone ‘trans enough’ is an incredibly shortsighted and damaging one. It insists that not only do trans women have to match perfectly to some pre-ordained definition of female, but it’s also quite misogynistic when you look at it.
Miss Bailey insists that only by wearing ‘women’s underwear’ are you ‘finally a woman’, but would she levy these same rules onto a cisgender woman found wearing boxer shorts? I very much doubt that.
These kind of views make it incredibly hard for trans women in society, as if you are seen to act in any way that is deemed ‘masculine’ it is suddenly used as an argument that it must be proof that your entire gender identity, presentation or even life is a construct based on a lie. Miss Bailey is here saying that if you do not fit her very narrow view of what should be considered female it must automatically make you a man.
Well, I’m calling bullshit on that. Wanting to wear boxer shorts to feel comfortable does not suddenly mean that you are lying about being a trans woman, if it did the same would have to apply to any woman who has ever worn boxer shorts, even for a moment. Surely these other women are lying about who they are too.
It also begs the question of where else Rachael Bailey draws this line of rigid womanhood? ‘You like the colour blue? Sorry, you’re not trans enough’. ‘You prefer action films to romantic comedies? Nope, you’re a dude’. ‘You have male friends and prefer beer over wine? Well then you’re just living a lie’.
This isn’t as much about what makes a person trans enough (the answer to which is, if you’re trans you’re fucking trans enough!) but the way people view oppressive gender stereotypes. You would hope that as a fellow trans woman Rachael Bailey would know better than to make those kind of judgements on other trans women, sadly it would appear that she does not.
Wanting to wear the clothes that make you feel comfortable doesn’t change your gender identity. Liking certain things does not change your gender identity. Having a body that does match your gender identity does not change your gender identity.
I’ve been in this kind of situation myself, where another trans woman questioned my validity as a trans woman, where I was accused of being a closet cross-dresser or gay man because my Facebook didn’t have enough picture of me out in public. It was crazy, it was frustrating and it was upsetting. But it made me realise that for some people, no matter what the situation, sometimes nothing is ever enough.
So I’d say to Rachel Bailey what I said to this other person, ‘who the fuck are you to judge other people’s lives?’
You don’t need anyone else’s approval, you don’t need to meet anyone’s standards to be yourself. You’re all ‘trans enough’, whether you’ve finished your transition or if you’ve only just come out to yourself. You’re all ‘trans enough’. Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise.