Q & A with Pageant Director of Miss Indian Transgender Arizona

Q & A with Pageant Director of Miss Indian Transgender Arizona

By Terra Matthews
NativeOUT News

Phoenix -The 2nd annual Miss Indian Transgender Arizona pageant is scheduled for Saturday night on December 9, 2006 at Native Health in Phoenix, Arizona. This pageant provides the Native American and LGBT communities the opportunity to gain awareness about issues challenging Native Transgenders. Promising to be just as enlightening and entertaining as last year, the pageant has the following categories: Modern Evening Wear, Traditional Talent, Q&A (HIV Question), and World Aids Day.  

“I would like individuals who attend this year’s pageant to walk away with two things, acceptance and understanding of Native American Transgenders. We want everyone to see that we are connected to our traditional heritages,” says Trudie Jackson, Pageant Director. Trudie, who is also the Assistant Director of the newly founded This is H.O.W. halfway house, has been working with the Phoenix area transgender community for the past 5 years.

Interview with Trudie Jackson, Pageant Director

About the Pageant

What is the mission of the Miss Indian Transgender Arizona pageant?
The Miss Indian Transgender Arizona Pageant competition is a collaborative effort of Native American LGBT individuals, programs, projects and community.  The pageant will assist in educating and raising awareness of issues that challenge the Native American Transgendered. The newly crowned contestant will be a positive role model and advocate for the Arizona Native American LGBT community.

What is the purpose of having this pageant and why do you feel it’s important to have events such as these?
After being in Phoenix for over 24 years, I have not heard of or seen of a Native American transgender pageant. I thought it was time for Native American transgenders to put themselves on the map in Phoenix, since there are so many different pageants taken place throughout the year. Even though this pageant may be small, it will eventually get bigger in the future.

How is this year’s pageant different from last year’s?
We have a High School Senior from the White Mountain Apache Tribe who will be competing in the Pageant this year. I included a community service volunteering segment as apart of the qualifications, in their local World AIDS Day activities on their reservations, but I had to take that out from the Pageant, since some tribal communities did not have anything planned for World AIDS Day.

What accomplishments has the 2006 Miss Indian Transgender Arizona made since it began?
The current reigning Miss Indian Transgender Arizona, Angel Manuel made a tremendous impact on making people aware of this pageant.  She was able to travel to numerous events throughout her reign and advocate for Native American Transgenders.

Does Miss Indian Transgender Arizona advocate for what she feels is important or do you determine what she will advocate for? If so, what will she advocate for this coming year?

I usually have Miss Indian Transgender make that decision. If she is heavily involved with certain issues such as Domestic Violence, I will support her and help her try to attend any and all Domestic Violence trainings, workshops and conferences.

Who organizes activities, fundraisers, etc.?
I work closely with Miss Indian Transgender Arizona throughout the year and help her plan activities for her. I usually have her stay connected with Native American LGBT groups such as NativeOUT in Phoenix and Tribal Pride in Tucson.  

Who are the sponsors of this year’s event? Is it still affiliated with Native American Pathways?
Since I am no longer with Native American Pathways/Native Health, I have decided to keep this pageant going on my own. Arizona Department of Health Service (Office of HIV/AIDS) has been a tremendous supporter. Mother Judy from Crusin’ on 7th has also been a strong supporter.  The following sponsors have been very supportive for this years Pageant: Gilead Pharmaceutical (they will be providing the catered food), Bear Claw Jewelry Repair, Fort McDowell Casino and Resort, Inter-tribal Council of Arizona, Arizona Human Rights Fund, Native Vision Tobacco Program, Native Health, NativeOUT and last but not least, Phoenix Police Department. One of our new sponsors for this year’s pageant is Fort McDowell Casino and Resort.  This is the first time that one of the local Casinos supported the Pageant.  Hopefully next year, other local Casinos will be sponsors. We are fortunate to have generous sponsors.  

How has planning this pageant affected your life?
Planning the pageant has been challenging. Since this is only the 2nd year, I am slowing making the community aware of this annual event. Once everyone knows this is a yearly event, we will have a larger turnout with more contestants.

Being Transgendered

What does it mean for you to be Transgendered?
Being Transgender is unique. I feel a lot better about myself after meeting individuals who accept me for who I am with loving open arms. With all this loving, I enjoy my life to the fullest.

What are some of the issues affecting Transgendered women today?
There are numerous issues that affect Transgender people in their everyday life. One of the most challenging of these issues is Gender Identity. Some girls* don’t know how to come out to their families, who reside on the reservations, about their lifestyles.  When girls* come to the city they are able to be themselves, instead of living in the closet. Another issue is employment.  Since most girls are unable to be themselves in the work place, they have to find an alternate way of surviving in the city. Stigma is another issue affecting Transgender women since the majority of the general population is not educated about Transgenderism; they automatically assume they are “men in a dress.”

*Trudie is referring to Transgender women.

Is there anything that LGBT communities can do to show support for Transgendered individuals?

The LGBT community can show us support by being more involved with the Transgender community. It would help the Trans people feel more welcome and included in the community.

What can people do to help end the stigma, violence, and prejudice towards Transgender people?
People can help end stigma, violence, and prejudice by accessing information which will help them understand the Transgender community. Having a pageant such as this will bring education and public awareness to the community and will show that Transgender people are people too.

If you could get a message across to people about Transgendered individuals, what message would that be?
That Transgendered individuals are unique in their own way.  We are just like any other human being: same features, feelings, etc.

Pageant’s Impact on Communities

What were some of the impacts on the community from having the 1st Annual Miss Indian Transgender Arizona Pageant?

We had a lot of exposure to the non-LGBT community when the Phoenix New Times wrote a story about the pageant and the Native American Pathways Prevention Project. We received numerous emails from community members who were willing to help keep the Pathways Prevention Project going after its funding ran out. We had a lot of sponsors during the first year of the pageant and the community was very supportive. We had many members of the LGBT community witnessing the 1st Annual Miss Indian Transgender Arizona Pageant.

Can you explain what the significance of this pageant is to the Native American and non-Native communities?
This Pageant is unique for several reasons. This is the first of its kind in the State of Arizona, where the title holder represents the entire State. Several reservations hold a similar pageant, but it is to represent their community. Second of all, this pageant allows each contestant to share their culture with the audience. Most non-Natives who attend Native American pageants are fascinated with the Traditional Talent. Third, it allows contestants from the entire State to be able to come to Phoenix and be themselves and meet other Native Transgenders from the State.

What experiences do you want people who attend this pageant to walk away with?
I would like individuals who attend this year’s pageant to walk away with two things, acceptance and understanding of Native American Transgenders. We want everyone to see that we are connected to our traditional heritages  

Event Information

Date: December 09, 2006
Location: Native Health, 3008 North 3rd Street, Phoenix, AZ
Time: 6pm to 10pm
Admission: $5 (food served with admission)
More Information contact: Trudie at tjackson@phoenixbodypositive.org