Transgender community holds beauty contest
WHEN 19-year old Jue Jue Pan Htwa stepped to the runway, she had just three days of training behind her.
But that didn’t stop the young transgender Mandalay resident from strutting her stuff at the Miss Nay Won Thit Beauty Contest on October 30 in Mandalay’s Hotel Marvel.
“I wasn’t hoping for a prize,” Jue Jue Pan Htwa, who finished first runner-up, said after the competition. “But I’m so glad to have won.”
She added that she will compete in upcoming iterations of the contest, which is organised by the Nay Won Thit organisation. The group works to increase outreach for victims of AIDS and HIV, as well as providing educational material and anti-HIV programs targeted for at-risk members of the LGBT community.
“This is the second beauty contest we’ve put together,” said organiser Ko Maw Gyi, also known as Ko Min Thukha. “It is a pre-education activity for World AIDS Day.”
The day, held annually on December 1, commemorates those who have died from the virus and shows support for those living with it. Ko Maw Gyi said the pageant aimed to reduce discrimination against the LGBT community and promote unity within its members.
“It also aims to promote health education and fundraising for HIV services,” Ko Maw Gyi added.
According to UNAIDS research from 2015, there are an estimated 220,000 people living with HIV in Myanmar. It is believed that more than 100,000 children have been orphaned as a result of the virus, and anywhere from 7600 to 12,000 people have perished.
Dr Than Win, who works with the National AIDS Program, said fighting HIV with anti-HIV programming and messaging could help to create more job opportunities for LGBT-identifying people. A group that is often marginalised and oppressed by archaic penal codes and a traditionally conservative culture, the LGBT community struggles to find employment throughout the country.
“This [contest] is an activity that helps educate people about HIV and AIDS,” Dr Than Win said. “Drug users, sex workers and LGBT members are at risk of being infected, so this type of activity should be increased.”
He added that entrepreneurs who help create more similar activities might find success where they haven’t before.
For Jue Jue Pan Tra, that might mean joining Nay Win Thit in some capacity going forward.
“I will carry out health education by joining with this Nay Win Thit group,” Jue Jue Pan Tra said.
‘I’m so glad to have won. [Now] I will carry out health education by joining with this Nay Won Thit group.’ Jue First Jue runner-upPan Htwaat Miss Nay Won Thit Beauty Contest
Contestants at the Miss Nay Won Thit Beauty Contest strut their stuff in front of a crowd of around 600 people in Mandalay on October 30.
Research from UNAIDS conducted in 2015 found that more than 100,000 children in Myanmar have been orphaned by the deadly virus.
The competition provided educational information about HIV and AIDS, as well as fundraising for the organisation.
Myanmar is believed to have nearly a quarter-million HIV victims.