Sunday’s historic transgender pageant in Glasgow saw the national Miss Scotland title won by former Peebles High School pupil, Jai Latto.
Jai, 22, who lives in Walkerburn, will be joined by three runners-up from the event for next month’s national UK title event in London.
The Miss Transgender United competition is aimed at showing that trans people ‘work, live and function as part of society’, and to help ‘bring the UK in line with Europe for acceptance and equality for all’.
Jai was chosen by a panel of judges using a points system that assessed participants on the catwalk, the answers they gave to questions about their life, education and trans issues, and their talent.
She had previously been stripped of a title in the Miss Earth competition after organisers discovered she was born male.
But rather than be disheartened, Jai has continued to enter pageants, which she combines with activism on transgender issues and freelance make-up artistry.
Her win saw a hectic few days of interviews and publicity events for Jai, who says she wants to use the title to highlight trans issues.
A delighted Jai, who also works with LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) Borders told The Southern this week: “In the past most of the publicity about trans issues was usually negative, and we’d only get on the likes of the Jerry Springer show or in the news when one of us committed suicide or was murdered.
“ This pageant is a fantastic way of showing we’re just like everyone else and as much a part of society as any other female.”
And Jai praised the support she has had from her local community in the Borders: “Living in the Borders I can honestly say I have never experienced any negativity. Ever since coming out as a transgender person I have had nothing but support from the communities of Innerleithen, where I grew up, and Walkerburn.”
She wants to use her Miss Scotland title to aid trans charities, and says winning the UK final on September 27 would provide more opportunities. The UK final will see 24 participants compete for a £5,000 cash prize and modelling contract.