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Sunday, July 14, 2024

Beauty Queen Julie Yap

The lovely Julie is presently a candidate in the Miss Queen Philippines beauty pageant. She hails from Lapu Lapu City and is a doctor and an LGBTQ advocate

How has your journey as a transgender individual influenced your perspective on beauty?

As a transgender woman, I always see beauty more than a physical attributes since a true beauty comes from within —your character, values and advocacy. Yet, most transgender individual were living in a culture that seems to only understand gender based on appearance. My being seen as the woman I am is almost entirely dependent on my ability to perform femininity as it’s been established in our culture—namely, to be beautiful. Those of us who don’t always look perfectly female or perfectly male are subject to being misgendered and misunderstood; we are often the subject of ridicule, judgement, and scrutiny. We need to see a shift in our view of gender.

I would love for us to stop making assumptions about one another’s gender identities based on appearance and must delve into a deeper meaning which beauty can resonate on your character in dealing with others, values to impart in the next generation and the advocacy you can bring on the table to help the unwelcome and undervalued. I can see that shift starting to happen if we take part in defining the real meaning of beauty beyond borders. Ultimately, it’s about me knowing that my beauty as a transgender individual is not conditional. It does not rely on being seen or understood by others. Real beauty is the force that dares to defy a culture that does everything in its power to erase difference — being misgendered and gender nonconformity. And that’s the only type of beauty for which I truly need to strive.

What does inclusivity mean to you in the context of beauty standards and representation?

Beauty standards have been used to restrict and ensure that people conform to the standard of appearance; yet, these standards harm people’s capacity for self-expression and obstruct individual creativity in general. The definition of beauty has evolved in recent years to emphasize its universality, which goes beyond sexual orientation and gender.  Through rise of gender-neutral platforms (products, services and clothing) is a positive step towards inclusivity without adhering to traditional gender norms, reflect a more progressive and accepting approach especially among LGBTQIA++. For me, it denotes a powerful message of acceptance, accessibility and equality for all.

How do you define inner beauty, and how does it contribute to your overall sense of self?

Whom we deem ‘beautiful’ is a reflection of our values. Now, a more expansive world has arrived where ‘we are all beautiful.’ For me, inner beauty encompasses both tangible and intangible qualities, encompassing physical attractiveness as well as virtues, morality and character of a person. It endures and deepens with age, enriching relationships, and fostering personal growth and fulfillment where it contributes to my overall sense of self. It is characterized by qualities such as authenticity, empathy, and integrity, which resonate with others on a deeper level and a sense of inner peace and contentment.

In conclusion, the dichotomy of inner and outer beauty serves as a reminder of the complexity and richness of the human experience. While outer beauty may captivate the eye, it is inner beauty that touches the heart and soul, enriching our lives with depth, meaning, and purpose.

In what ways do you use beauty and style to express your gender identity?

When it comes to beauty and style, there is no one size fits all. Much like, fashion, makeup, and trends, there are things that work for some and things that work for others. Im a believer of a saying ‘be true to yourself and do what feels right’ where the essence of beauty and style radiates that can be expressed in colors, products, and techniques who will identify you as unique individual. By putting smile in your face, the way you dress, and your overall appearance will inspire many in letting them feel that they can show the best part of themselves.

This will help you bring out the best in them every time! When you truly love and know yourself, it shines from the inside out. You can also be remarkable. By embracing both aspects of beauty and style; and recognizing their interconnectedness, we can cultivate a more holistic and inclusive understanding of aesthetics, identity, and self-worth, fostering a culture that celebrates the beauty of the human spirit in all its diversity and complexity.

What challenges have you faced in the beauty industry as a transgender individual, and how have you overcome them?

Nowadays, many transgender individuals faced challenges toward their outer appearance that does not match their inner identity where aesthetic treatments, particularly non-surgical options were introduced to help them align their physical appearance with their gender identity. Even I, myself have been struggling to this kind of emerging challenges despite the risk it could possibly take yet this can bring out the best in me and to confidently present myself to the public.

With aesthetics, it offer treatments that are either reversible and temporary that plays an important role in gender transition of an individual especially providing options to subtly feminize or masculinize facial features that will match their gender identity in a way that is both affirming and adjustable. While on transition, it has a huge impact on our mood, mental health, and even ability to function on a day-to-day basis but one must understand and learn about gender dysphoria, hormone therapies, and the psychological aspects of transitioning.

As a healthcare professional, I would like to emphasize how important educating yourself about the crucial step towards transitioning especially dealing with aesthetics it’s pros and cons. By seeking for medical attention is a first step to safeguard your health and prevent the undesirable outcomes it may lead in the future. All I can say, ligtas ang may alam. Better safe than sorry.

How do you promote body positivity and self-love within the transgender community?

I can inspire the trans community by letting them appreciate their uniqueness in spite of physical characteristics that are often deemed “flaws” or “unattractive” and promote a gender-neutral environment/workplace. It has been demonstrated that body positivity and self-love has enormous positive effects on individual physical and mental well-being who frequently practice it. As we say, practice makes perfect, and the best way to amplify this cause, is by using the correct pronouns which shows respect, affirms individual gender identity and validates their sense of self. Misusing or refusing to use someone’s preferred pronouns can be hurtful and invalidating and make them feel discriminated and undervalued. Through, educating themselves about pronouns and being open to learning about different gender identities is a crucial step towards being more inclusive and diverse community.

What role do you believe beauty pageants play in advocating for transgender rights and visibility?

Through beauty pageants, those transwoman who are traditionally marginalized in mainstream are provided with a platform to fight for their rights and causes. Transgender community resilience and fortitude are demonstrated by these pageants, which go beyond mere glamour to make a forceful statement against discrimination, bullying and stereotyping. As advocates of inclusiveness and acceptance in society, they demonstrate that elegance and beauty are gender-neutral. These pageants are not just about the crown or the title but are a testament to the courage of the candidates, marking significant progress in the fight for acceptance and equality which I have been advocating over the years. Being a University Professor and a professional with a medical background, I am a living example of how transgender women are not only expected in pageant arena but can also be remarkable. Certain individuals are highly accomplished professionals in their respective fields, such as doctors, legislators, and engineers, and should be appreciated and acknowledged for their accomplishments, regardless of their sexual orientation.

How do you balance societal expectations of beauty with authenticity and self-expression?

We ought to be careful about who we follow and how much time we engage to others to find balance in everything we do. In general, our self-esteem declines with negative societal expectations especially in terms of sexual orientation and gender identity. Furthermore, it can be quite detrimental to your mental health to compare yourself to other people all the time which is totally out of your control. Rather, concentrate on following those who actually pique your interest, find you amusing, and do not bring you down. To the people who truly accept and support you all the way which applies to your social circle: you should be surrounded of those who celebrated your individuality to fully express yourself and to those who truly cares of your well-being.

How do you envision using your platform as a beauty pageant contestant to empower and inspire other transgender individuals?

Despite the common misconception that beauty pageant contestants are only for glitz and glamour yet it has developed into powerful spaces for transwomen who are ambitious, transformational, and well-educated. As a registered Respiratory Therapist, a licensed Professional Teacher, an LGBTQ+ advocate and a University Professor, I envision a queen must emphasized the pageants’ transformative capacity in addressing disparities and optimizing LGBTQ+ educational recognition. Their educational pursuit serves as a catalyst for transformation, instilling a sense of belonging and pride in the community while also empowering them to create a common identity that transcends cultural acceptance and discontinues distinctions. These events go beyond beauty and aesthetics, allowing them to showcase their talents, defy societal standards, advocate their causes, address their challenges, and promote a safer space in the future.

Sponsors:

Mayor Junard ‘Ahong’ Chan

Congresswoman Ma. Cynthia “Cindi” King Chan

Alpha Premier Medical Aesthetics by Doc Geona Ann Macrohon and Doc Charles Larino

Skin Delight Cebu Aesthetic Clinic by Miss Kim Yburan

Miss Sharah Charisse Wang, MSPT, PTRP

Dr. Tina Jordana – Leyson, DDM

Dr. Angeli Alvarez, DDM

Miss Ziiree Summers, RTRP

Queen Sherms Cebu

Miss Beatriz Marie Castaño, MAOT, OTRP

NeemTree Yoga Health & Wellness Center by Teach Gi Gi

Miss Ariel Dico Villarmente

Hair and Make-Up artists, Trainors:

Keith Bacayo

Kael Bontia

Jane Ra Doble

Olga Mae Tagayong

Rhoniela Mendiola

Bernadette Agbo

Febe Giljang

Nicole Inso

Ashley Bihag

Volta Rosaldo

Anton Dolino

Karla Supersoft

Rabie Ian Pugoy

Gown and Costume Designers:

Roy Erwin Tizon

Rei Escario

Malayka Yamas

Marbz Alvarez

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