Miss Tiffany’s Universe 2009

14 05 2009


On May 15th at 10:30 PM, Miss Tiffany’s Universe 2009 will air on Thai television stations.  This beauty pageant for transwomen has become extremely popular, not just in Thailand but around the world.  Miss Tiffany’s is a trans cabaret located 90 miles southeast of Bangkok.  One of the first all-transgender cabarets, it is located in the same town as its rival, the Alcazar.  The shows at these venues regularly pack the 2000 seat theaters with both Asian and western tourists.  The Miss Tiffany’s Universe Pageant is a yearly beauty pageant for transwomen that draws contestants from all over Thailand and is a fundraiser for Thailand’s Royal Sponsored AIDS Foundation.  Part of the pageant’s mission is to promote acceptance for transgender people worldwide.

This year, they have narrowed the contestants down to 30 finalists.  The winner is offered the equivalent of $2,700 US dollars, a Mercedes Benz, a diamond-studded crown, a trophy, and the winner is Thailand’s representative in the Miss International Queen pageant open to transwomen around the globe.

It is important to note that “kathoey,” the Thai term for these transwomen, is not exactly the same as how we might think of transwomen.  The term “kathoey” suggests that the person is a type of male, unlike the term “sao praphet song,” which suggests a female sex identity, or “phet thee sam,” which suggests a third gender.  Wikipedia argues that kathoeys are more visible and accepted in Thai culture than in western cultures.  “Kathoey” may refer to a range of men, some who undergo hormone replacement and sex-reassignment surgery, others who dress as males but use feminine pronouns or adopt some culturally feminine habits, clothing, or makeup.

It will be exciting to see who wins the contest.  Each year, the pageant draws millions of viewers and is publicized globally. Thanyaras Jiraphatphakorn was crowned Miss Tiffany Universe for 2007.  In the interview segment of the show, she was asked if it was possible for a ‘kathoey,’ translated as ‘ladyboy’ to ever become a politician. “Sure, it is. In the future, there might be a prime minister who is a ladyboy…Society should judge people by what they do rather than considering what sex they are,” said Thanyaras.  Hopefully, a future free from stigmatization, prejudice, and violence against transgender people will come sooner rather than later.

Thursday Blogaround

14 05 2009

As always, there is a lot of interesting reading out there on the feminist and progressive blogosphere.

Who is going to replace Justice David Souter?

“Women dominate list for top court”:

President Obama is considering a list of more than six contenders for the Supreme Court that is dominated by women and Hispanics, one that includes judges and leaders from his administration who have never donned a judicial robe.

Monica at Transgriot weighs in and aptly points out:

Since the founding of the United States, there have been 118 people who have served as Supreme Court justices. Out of the 17 Supreme Court chief justices, all 17 have been white males.

In terms of the 188 past and present supreme court justices, only two, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sandra Day O’Connor have been women. Only two have been non-white, African-Americans Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas*.

Jill shares her thoughts on RH Reality Check:

The general consensus that Obama’s choice is going to be a woman is not a bad gamble, since women make up more than half of the American public, one-third of all lawyers and thirty percent of lower federal court judges, but occupy only one seat on the current Supreme Court. Troublingly, though, there have been murmurings that this will be Obama’s “woman nomination,” and the “racial nomination” will be next – as if women can’t be both women and of color, and as if the nominees will be little more than tokens.

Thoughts on Gentrification:

In “Your Money or Your Life: A Lesson on the Front Stoop,” author Douglas Rushkoff writes of the time he was mugged in his own neighborhood and the following stream of thoughts he had.

“Saying ‘Hi’ in Bed-Stuy” has more on social interactions among residents in gentrified spaces. The author writes:

In my twenty interviews, one wish came through stronger than friendliness. People want diverse neighborhoods, including different races, ages, and sexual orientations, with an array of careers, representing different socioeconomic classes. Brooklyn native Tyrone Harris said, “The diversity in the neighborhood is so good, that we can learn about the whole world in just one neighborhood, because we have Chinese, African American, Latino, and White. We have everything here. Puerto Rican, Spanish—you name it, we got it. But the thing is, are we using our assets? Or are we just sitting back saying, ‘We don’t like this or we don’t like that.’ See, it’s easy to complain, but the question is: What do you want to do?”

A look at our education system –

We are teaching kids to otherize:

American high school students learn that people around the world with dark skin are violent, dirty, and poorly dressed.

No wonder American kids grow up to be American adults whose voting habits reflect the view that American foreign policy should be paternalistic.

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Beware! Facebook can break up your marriage!

14 05 2009

Oh, the things people say…

An Oklahoma news station has a recent story about how online social networking sites (case in point: Facebook) can be “hazardous to marriages”:

“We see about 40 percent of the couples coming in, there is a link to Facebook or to MySpace that has caused a breach in their marriage,” said licensed marriage and family therapist Tara Fritsch.

So, out of all possible other reasons why a marriage would fall apart, Facebook or MySpace seem to be a primary culprit.  How so?

The Edmond therapist said most connections start off innocently enough.

“An ex-love, an old flame — there’s a nostalgia there. There’s memory of the simple days or maybe excitement of new romance,” she said.

Your significant other on Facebook is a threat to your relationship.  What if your partner’s Facebook friends are people s/he went to high school, college, or grad school with?  What if your partner realizes from looking at one of their friend’s pictures that so-and-so from way back when is attractive now and decide to ditch you to pursue him/her instead?

Fritsch says that couples should establish guidelines to monitor their use of online social networking sites:

“If it’s not something you want your spouse to know about, don’t do it. Have open communication with your spouse. Share your Facebook or MySpace sites. Have one another’s passwords. Talk regularly about who you are chatting with,” Fritsch said.

Come on now, is this really necessary?  Have each other’s passwords?  Talk regularly about who you are chatting with?  Adults, especially ones in relationships, do not need to  be monitored like they are children.  People are entitled to privacy and if the relationship is founded on trust and open communication then there is no need to be paranoid about whether or not your partner is going to cheat on you with a Facebook friend.  You can’t wall off your partner’s exposure to and communication with other people, you shouldn’t have access to his/her Facebook (just like you shouldn’t have access to his/her email or text messages), and you shouldn’t be policing who your partner communicates with on or off-line.  That’s just ridiculous and controlling.

Of course it’s easier and much more of an oversimplification to blame social networking sites for cheating and failed marriages.  And also, I love how the article seems to put marriage on a pedestal – it’s so crucial that people remain married at all costs, even if their relationship is already on the rocks.  So, if you want to save your relationship (or if it doesn’t quite need saving yet, just make sure it lasts), get rid of your Facebook or Myspace account if you haven’t already!

Roadblocks to Health Care, and why our current system fails women

14 05 2009

This week is National Women’s Health Week, and the Department of Health and Human Services just released a report titled Roadblocks to Health Care: Why the Current Health Care System does not work for Women.




The report outlines roadblocks to health care – “Women are more vulnerable to high health care costs than men“, how and why the health insurance system we have now is in need of reform – “The current health insurance framework leaves too many women uncovered”, how the individual insurance market fails women it should be serving – “Higher costs and inadequate benefits make the individual insurance market an unreliable choice for women”, and the implications of all this – “As a result, women are more likely than men to experience difficulty accessing care.”

The conclusion of the report? “Comprehensive health care reform is needed to level the playing field, and make health care accessible and affordable for all women.”

Eve Ensler’s Testimony on Rape as a Weapon of War in the DRC

14 05 2009

Earlier today, at 2:30 PM, Eve Ensler testified on the topic of rape as a weapon of war in the Democratic Republic of Congo before a joint hearing “Confronting Rape and Other Forms of Violence Against women in Conflict Zones” of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs and the new Subcommittee on International Operations and Organizations, Human Rights, Democracy and Global Women’s Issues.

For her full testimony, click here.

And here’s more information on V-Day 2009’s campaign Stop Raping Our Greatest Resource: Power to the Women and Girls of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Harajuku Lovers and “Gwenihana”

14 05 2009

Every time I see those little (admittedly cute) perfume bottles and colorful outfits for sale, I have to say I’m a little bit put off.


I don’t know if it’s the woman looking like a child thing, or the slanted eyes on the cartoon images, or just the ridiculous use of Asian stereotypes by white people as a marketing tool for a boring clothing and fragrance line that bothers me most.  Maybe it’s the nagging suspicion that “Harajuku lover” is really just a code name for “Asian lover” or maybe “racist and stereotypical version of Japanese culture lover.”  Maybe I’m just sick and tired of seeing Gwen Stefani parading around with a group of Japanese women dressed to look like schoolgirls in her shadow.


Since when does Gwen think that appropriating other cultures is so cool and so fun?  Since when is parading around with a group of identically dressed Japanese women who silently accompany her on photoshoots a good idea?  And as if the silencing isn’t enough when these four women are living in Gwen’s shadow, they are even contractually obligated to only speak Japanese even though all four of them are rumored to be Americans who speak perfect English.

Why is it that all these women are dressed the same?  Well, first of all, I’m assuming that Gwen wants to stand out.  She’s taller, she’s white, she’s blonde.  Isn’t it sending the wrong message that these women are dressed up to look the same, while the only white woman in the picture is dressed differently?  

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