A bar is being accused by the LGBT community of discriminating against a transsexual woman they argue was the true winner of a contest to win breast enhancement surgery.
The competition was started by Kostbar – located on Gothersgade in central Copenhagen – and ignited a media storm when it was reported in early March.
The premise was simple. Competitors were asked to send in a photo along with a brief explanation of why they should win a new pair of silicone breasts. The competitors were displayed on the bar’s Facebook page and the winner would be the individual with the most number of ‘likes’.
The bar now stands accused of creating a fake ‘mystery’ contender in order to avoid awarding the enhancement surgery to a transsexual woman who was winning the competition by a wide margin.
In the final week of the competition, transsexual Malene Lang Hansen was in first place with about 1,600 votes, almost doubling the number of votes of the second place competitor.
On her profile, Hansen described how she was always identified as being a woman but was sad that she could not afford to pay for breasts.
“I am transsexual and was born in a boy’s body,” she wrote. “On the inside I have always felt like a woman.”
Only days before the competition ended on June 1, however, a new competitor emerged who quickly amassed almost 4,000 votes and dropped Hansen into second place. But questions have been raised over the competitor's authenticity.
Suspicions that the competitor is a fabrication were further raised when Politiken newspaper’s culture and nightlife supplement, iByen, discovered the photo of the mystery lady was a generic image that could be found in different places online. An attempt by The Copenhagen Post to search for the photo online, however, only turned up Politiken's own stories.
The surging popularity of the woman could also be explained as ‘likes’ can be bought cheaply online from websites where 2,000 ‘likes’ can be bought for as little as $100. Also, the woman’s likes went from zero to almost 4,000 in just over 24 hours, though only a handful were added in the following 24 hours. Lastly, neither the woman, nor anyone claiming to know the woman, has so far stood forward.
The suspicions that Kostbar had fabricated the competitor to avoid giving the breasts to a transsexual woman are also supported by other seemingly discriminatory treatment that Hansen had received earlier in the competition.
Hansen had earlier been disqualified when Kostbar moved the competition from its Facebook page to its website. She was eventually put back in the running after the story broke in the national media. Despite having mysteriously lost many of her likes, she quickly moved ahead into first place, where she remained until appearance of the mystery woman.
Politiken reports that other transsexual women in the competition also found that their profiles were not transferred when the bar moved the competition to their website.
Hansen expressed disappointment about the result and was under no doubt that she had been treated unfairly.
“I think it’s very suspicious that two days before the end of the competition a new girl suddenly shows up who quickly gains 3,700 votes,” Hansen told Politiken. “I, and many others, think the Kostbar has cheated. I am the moral winner of the silicone breasts but obviously it didn’t fit their advertising campaign."
Hansen added that the incident brings to light the discrimination faced by transgender people.
“It’s really hard work to get acknowledgement and respect when you are transsexual. This case shows the discrimination transsexual people face. It shows the distance and the contempt that transsexuals and other minorities experience.”
Kostbar’s owner Thomas Søgaard (picture at right) denied, however, that the competition was rigged to prevent Hansen from winning the breasts.
“We have had no influence on the result of the competition,” Hansen wrote on Facebook. “We are sorry that a participant is sad not to have won but the same rules applied to everyone. We cannot give a prize for second place as that would be unfair to the other participants. We wish the winner congratulations and thank everyone for the interest that has been shown for the competition.”