The first-ever Miss Trans Northampton Pageant is scheduled for next Saturday, Sept. 5, at the Northampton Center for the Arts. This is one of only a few such events nationwide. Eight Massachusetts transwomen will compete in the categories of glamour, poise, evening gown and talent. “Transgender” is a broad term that includes transsexuals, transvestites, and those who choose not to identify as either male or female.
The Springfield Republican newspaper ran a story on the event yesterday. Pageant organizer Christa L. Hilfers’ gender odyssey is interesting in itself:
Hilfers, 33, moved to Massachusetts three years ago from South Dakota. Born a biological male, Hilfers was raised by her mother as a girl. She went into foster care at age 9, but was allowed to continue living as a female.
“I didn’t try to live as a boy until I was 18,” she said.
Hilfers had a child with a woman, but the relationship failed, and she has not seen her daughter, now 15, for years. “After that I realized I could never be a boy,” she said.
Part American Indian, Hilfers spent some of her life on a reservation in South Dakota. Although her fellow Indians were accepting of her, she found South Dakota a difficult place to be transgender. She and her husband, a heterosexual male, moved here so they could get married. His family still doesn’t know Hilfers is transgender, she said. She considers herself a straight female.
Hilfers has competed in pageants for most of her life and won the title “Miss Gay Rochester, Minnesota” in 2003. Once she moved to Hampshire County, she identified Northampton as a good place for a transgender pageant.
“It’s really safe,” she said, “and not just for transgender people.”
That’s the kind of statement that makes me proud of our town. In other news, Northampton will host the second annual New England Transgender March and Rally on Oct. 3. See my coverage of last year’s event here.