Trans beauty queen Kevin Balot issued a statement last night that earned mixed reactions from many pageant fans and the LGBTQ community.
In a pageant themed online show on June 23, the Miss International Queen 2012 spoke with Mutya ng Pilipinas Intercontinental 2010 Carla Lizardo, Binibining Pilipinas International 2014 Bianca Guidotti and Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach about standing in solidarity with the LGBTQ community in this year’s Pride Month.
However, viewers did not expect Balot to say that trans women joining “traditional” beauty pageants is “not equality anymore.”
“We trans women always ask for equality,” she said in the video. “And I believe us transgender women joining sa mga Miss Universe is not equality anymore eh. Hindi lang ako sang-ayon sa mga ganoong bagay kasi we have our own pageant. We have the Miss International Queen pageant which is the most prestigious transgender beauty pageant. So if us joining pageant ng mga babae hindi na siya equality parang we’re asking too much na.”
Balot added that she’s not against trans women joining pageants like the Miss Universe, but wants people to treat transgender pageants at the same level “to respect each other.” The three other beauty queens agreed and proceeded to talk about their perspectives on trans women joining beauty pageants.
While some viewers expressed on social media that they share Balot’s sentiments, some found it a product of self-internalized transphobia for labeling the fight for equality and trans representation as “too much.” Many people were disappointed with the beauty queen for invalidating the struggle of her trans sisters. Many also noted that her statement could be used by non-trans people to step in and reinforce the transphobic idea that trans women aren’t women.
Kevin Balot, as a cis-passing trans woman can always talk about how she has been accustomed to almost fair treatment. But allowing that experience to be the template for all trans women is turning a blind eye to the systemic violence faced by trans people as a whole.
— Amber | #JunkTerrorBill #OUSTDuterte (@GeeYanii) June 23, 2020
Girl i really looked up to queen Kevin Balot cause her presence as an openly proud trans woman really helped our community. So disappointed to hear na we’re apparently “asking for too much” when we fight to get represented in beauty pageants. Hay lungkot pic.twitter.com/LXpXbfJXOK
— Gigi on YouTube (@gigiesguerra) June 23, 2020
The beauty queen, then, clarified in a Tweet that her intention was to give more recognition to pageants designed for trans women like the Miss International Queen and that “I know na mali ako for saying na ‘too much’ na or ‘hindi na equality’ yun pero just know na hinding hindi po ayun ang paniniwala ko. I just used the wrong terms dahil hindi po ako ganun kagaling at expressing myself in English.”
Photo courtesy of Unsplash
Beauty pageants may be empowering—but is that enough when they enable abuse, too?
A university pageant with straight men who act gay? Homophobic
This is how beauty brands are responding to the COVID-19 scare
Don’t Turn a Blind Eye to the Blatant Sexism of Beauty Pageantry