After taking part in the first ever Miss Transgender UK pageant in November 2018, Aria Welsh from Perthshire, speaks to us about her life, inspirations and why having positive role models is still so important in Scotland.
– So, explain for our readers – What is Miss Transgender UK and what happened during the competition?
“The competition was a bit like a pageant with different sections and people judging on various aspects of your character and look. There was also a really important element about raising funds for a charity, which is quite common in pageants in different parts of the world. On the run up to the finals it was a case of raising as much money and awareness for each contestants chosen charity as possible – mine was SANDS (Stillborn & Neonatal Death Society).”
“On the night of the pageant there were a number of different items things we had to do. It was a case of showing your fundraising portfolio (I held a charity variety show called ‘Get Sassy For SANDS’ as well as relying on public donations and gift aid) then demonstrating a talent/creation (I wrote a letter to my younger self, it was very emotional and I was dressed in a female kilt) and there was the evening gown round.”
“It really was a brilliant event – there was a lovely 3 course meal, wine, live bands and also a fashion show that the contestants got to model in. I had a fantastic experience down in Cardiff and would highly recommend anyone to at least try a pageant once.”
– How have family & friends reacted to your win?
“They were overjoyed, they have always been my biggest support in particular my Wee Granny Julia who managed the gruelling 12 hour car journey down to Cardiff along with my boyfriend and 2 very close trans friends. My mum (Mummager) Rachel, had to stay back and hold the family down. They are looking forward to seeing what I can do with this amazing title and opportunity.”
– What does it mean to you to bring the title back to Scotland?
“It means the world! I am honestly over the moon, I was the only Scottish finalist and I feel like I’ve not only won it for myself but for every transgender person living in Scotland too. It’s such a nice feeling.”
– Why did you decide to enter the competition? Did anyone inspire you to take part?
“I decided to enter since the competition was so focussed on charity work and I have been waiting more than 15 years to be able to give back to SANDS after they helped my family after we lost our baby brother Matthew. My brother and I were only young but we still dealt the full force of deep loss which the people at SANDS helped us with. Being able to raise almost £2000 for them was the most rewarding experience. I’ve yet to meet the SANDS team face to face but I look forward to when that happens.”
– What do you hope to achieve with this new title?
“My plans as Miss Transgender UK are to be fully trained in equalities and be able to go to schools, colleges and businesses and talk to them about my story, about what it’s like to live as a trans person and about trans rights. I also hope to be able to build a foundation and support group specifically for trans kids and their families. I would love to not only travel all over Scotland but the whole of the UK, and eventually different countries, to meet trans individuals too.
“I have plans to start my own all-inclusive pageant for all genders, but that will take alot of planning and preparation and will be on the cards sometime in the future. I just want to be able to make a difference today and everyday, leaving my mark on the world because tomorrow is not promised at all.”
– Why do you feel it’s important for trans women to have positive role models?
“I feel it’s very important for trans women to have positive role models because young trans people need to be able to look up to someone when they are looking for guidance or someone to relate to. They need to know they ARE worth it, there is nothing wrong with them.”
“We have unfortunately been heavily sexualised and treated as objects rather than people, just like cisgender women have. You only need to look at the messages we all get on social media to see that is still happening. There’s still a long way to go but we are making small steps forward with the visibility of more positive trans role models in the media.”
– What’s your message to any young women hoping to be in your heels one day!?
“I would have to say YOU GOT THIS! You can absolutely do it. Believe in yourself, work hard, do it for the right reasons and reap what you sow. Oh and of course make sure those heels are comfortable because you’ll be doing a lot of work in them!”
The Crowing Ceremony for Aria as Miss Transgender UK will be held on 15th March in Forty Four Bar & Late Lounge in Perth. If you’d like to attend, you can send any enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org