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Model comp: Trans Aucklander can compete

Posted in: New Zealand Daily News
By Daily News staff - 2nd April 2014

Amy Brosnahan
Organisers of a modelling competition say a transgender Auckland woman can compete, and are apologising for their “naivety and confusion” after earlier telling her it was for “females only”.

Amy Brosnahan had been in the process of making a Human Rights Commission complaint after her exclusion from the Auckland final of Battle of the Babes Worldwide, which is being held at Auckland's Empire Tavern this Saturday.

“I felt really weird going into the competition not telling them what I am really about, what I stand for,” Brosnahan has told Daily News of her decision to inform the event organisers she was transgender.

She says after being up front, she was told she could no longer be in the final as it was “for female models only”. She immediately called them out for discrimination, telling an event coordinator “just because I am transgender, it doesn’t mean I am not female”.

Friends quickly took up the cause and also complained on her behalf.

The event's flyer
Organiser and spokesman for Battles of the Babes Andrew Featherstone has told Daily News he had never encountered a situation like this before and didn't really know how to deal with it. "I don't want to upset anyone or be unfair to anyone either,” he said.

After some thought, Featherstone and his team have decided Brosnahan can still compete if she wishes to.

“This has been bugging us all day. We never like upsetting people and certainly don't like being seen as unfair. We have been bothered by Amy being upset about this … we've just decided we should allow Amy to compete, seems like the simple answer and hopefully everyone will be happy, especially Amy, who we realise was enthusiastic about this,” he’s written in a message to Brosnahan’s supporters, which he has shared with

Featherstone has apologised for any ‘misunderstandings’. “This is pretty much the first time we have had to think about this, apart from a short chat in Thailand last year, so please forgive our naivety and confusion.”

Transgender rights advocate and political hopeful Kelly Ellis has gone into bat for the younger trans woman. During her calls to those involved in the competition she spoke to someone at the host venue, the Empire Tavern. Ellis says she was told “it’s the Battle of the Babes, not the battle of ‘the babes and boys’,” then hung up on.

Ellis says it’s great to see an organisation move so swiftly to change a discriminatory policy. “While it's sad to see it in the first place, we've ended up with a great result and, I hope, a salutary lesson to those who'd try to discriminate against trans people in New Zealand,” she says.

Ellis believes New Zealand is largely very accepting of transgender people. “But I suppose every now and then the odd dinosaur pokes it head out of the swamp and we need to make sure that they get educated or sent back to where they came from.”

Brosnahan felt it was important to speak up
Brosnahan has decided she will compete, and would love lots of supporters there on the night (get tickets here). "I'll try and kill it," she vows.

She’d earlier told Daily News not being able to compete had left her feeling down. “But I’ve got people surrounding me who keep my motivation up high. I want to make a difference in this world. I want to make a difference for the transgender community. There’s a lot people making a difference for lesbian, gay and bi rights, but transgender is very undercover and not spoken about as much.”

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