Miss Universe Judge Faces Financial Ruin Amidst Transgender Organizer Controversy
Recently, Miss Universe, a renowned signpost of aesthetics and traditions, has been at the focus of heated debates, specifically after it was acquired under WME/IMG by a popular Thai transsexual executive and philanthropist – Anne Jakrajutatip. It is worth noting that this acquisitions concluded last year for $20 million represent an important turning point for this pageant towards greater inclusiveness and diversification.
Apart from being a famous transgender, Anne Jakrajutatip also represents a powerful entrepreneur operating on the international arena. The fact that she bought Miss Universe is an indication of increasing recognition of transsexuals in the mainstream sphere. Nevertheless, the move towards inclusion has come with its challenges.
It is very shocking but according to the notice released at Stock Exchange of Thailand, JKN Global Group owned by Jakrajutatip, filed for business rehabilitation under the bankruptcy act dated 8th November, 2023. The next day, the Central Bankruptcy Court accepted it which raised question on the organisation’s financial strength. However, the Miss Universe Organization assures that the pageant will take place in El Salvador as planned in the year 2023 despite all the raised concerns, emphasising that they are committed to delivering a quality event to participants and spectators at large.
In 2023, the Miss Universe pageant has adopted a forward-thinking approach on the participation of transgenders. For the first time in the history of pageants, this year will see two transgender contestants namely, Marina Machete (Portugal) and Rikkie Kollé (Netherlands). This happened after the participation of Angie Ponce, a Spaniard from Spain in 2018, which was the first time that a transgender person had ever participated in this pageant.
It is a contentious issue whether or not transgender people should be permitted to compete in contests such as Miss Universe. This is where TV host and Miss Universe judge, Emily Austin provides an interesting dimension to this argument. Her argument is that such competition is discriminative towards transgender women who may be exposed to varying life experiences which are not comparable with those of cisgender women. According to Austin, this may erode the idea of women’s emancipation. This position also emphasizes an ongoing discussion among contemporary scholars regarding the modern conceptualization of ‘traditional femininity’.
That on-going debate about the criteria for beauty, own personality and stereotypes of social relations in context of Miss Universe contest emphasizes this difficulty. Nevertheless, the event is also financially challenged and raising of issues on how inclusive the society is. Notwithstanding, this does not render the pageant less important when it comes to discussing such matters.