The Cosmetic Cast - Gender and inclusivity in aesthetics: Embracing diversity in Pride Month with Dr Vincent Wong


In this episode of The Cosmetic Cast, we explore the significance of Pride Month and look at how aesthetic clinics can become more inclusive and supportive of LGBTQ+ patients. We're joined by award winning aesthetics doctor and specialist in facial harmony, Dr Vincent Wong, a pioneering advocate for the LGBTQ+ community within the aesthetics industry. Dr Wong shares his personal experiences with discrimination and offers invaluable insights into creating welcoming environments for all patients, particularly transgender individuals.

Together with Hamilton Fraser's founder and CEO, Eddie Hooker, and journalist Vicky Eldridge, Dr Wong discusses practical steps clinics can take to foster inclusivity, the importance of understanding and respecting pronouns, and the ongoing efforts required to make sure every patient feels valued and respected. This episode offers an enlightening conversation on the intersection of aesthetics and inclusivity, perfect for Pride month and beyond. For more information on this topic, read our article, 'Gender identity and how to be more inclusive in aesthetics'.

Vicky Eldridge: Welcome to the Cosmetic Cast. I'm Vicky Eldridge and I'm here with Hamilton Fraser's founder and CEO, Eddie Hooker. And we're also joined today by our special guest, Dr. Vincent Wong. We're joined today by Vincent because we're going to be talking about Pride, during this Pride Month, we're going to be talking about the LGBTQ+ community, particularly transgender patients and how we can be more supportive and more inclusive within our clinics. And I'm really delighted to have Vincent on the show because he is a long-term friend of mine, somebody I've known for many, many years. He's a multi-award-winning facial aesthetic doctor, specialising in facial balancing and harmony. And he does a lot of work in facial feminisation and masculinisation as well within the LGBTQ+ community. He's been shortlisted as one of the Ultimate 100 Global Aesthetics Leaders, and has been a trailblazer in advocating for the community. His personal experiences with discrimination have fueled his passion as well for creating a more inclusive and supportive environment in aesthetics clinics. So, Vincent, we are delighted to chat to you.

Eddie Hooker: I'm super excited.

Vincent Wong: Thank you for having me.

Eddie Hooker: Super excited ... I'm going to learn so much. And I think this is such an important subject both in the community and in aesthetics, but also for the insurance world from a risk point of view.

Vincent Wong: Absolutely.

Eddie Hooker: So I can't wait!

Vicky Eldridge: It's going to be a fantastic conversation.

Eddie Hooker: And also I'm going to be in awe, Vincent of you.

Vincent Wong: No pressure.

Eddie Hooker: So if I don't say anything it's only because I'm starstruck.

Vicky Eldridge: And he's such a super nice guy as well, Vincent, he really is. He's a lovely, lovely guy as well as being such an amazing doctor. Now, we mentioned in the introduction earlier, June is Pride Month. So we're talking about what does Pride mean to you and how can clinics acknowledge it and show their support in the community in a meaningful way?

Vincent Wong: For me, Pride is about celebrating who you are without any boundaries. So your skin colour doesn't matter, how you identify doesn't matter, your sexual orientation doesn't matter... It's just celebrating who you are and living life in that moment. Yeah, and I think in aesthetics it's actually not as difficult as we all think to be inclusive.

I think a lot of people have this fear that they might say something wrong or they might do something that shows a bit of bias, but actually it's really easy. I think one of the key things is surrounding pronouns. So simple things like being open and speaking about pronouns. Being comfortable in that conversation is a good start. Bearing in mind that a lot of people who want to have an aesthetic procedure done from the LGBTQ+ community, they're probably quite nervous to begin with. Because you hear so many bad stories, horrible experiences, people who have a phobia towards the community. Where things have gone wrong and things like that. Or just the lack of understanding. So bearing in mind that this group of patients or clients are already very nervous to begin with, just make them feel comfortable. And sometimes we make mistakes. So as long as you apologise and explain that you made a mistake, we are generally quite forgiving.

Eddie Hooker: Yeah. Do you think the business community just jumps on?

Vincent Wong: Yes.

Eddie Hooker: Because my experience from certainly in the insurance world as that's where I've been for the last 30-odd years. You sometimes get the feeling that people are just, "Well, it's Pride Month, so we are going to change the color of our logo. Just make a...” I'm not going to use the word political statement, but they use a statement. I sometimes worry that I don't think people understand... I think it's just a gimmick for some.

Vincent Wong: 100%.

Eddie Hooker: Do you find that?

Vincent Wong: Yes. A lot of businesses, just as you said, have this rainbow flag in June, July, sometimes And then that's it.

Eddie Hooker: That's a calendar date.

Vincent Wong: Absolutely.

Eddie Hooker: And you're going to do something and then they don't do anything after that. And that, I struggle with that.

Vincent Wong: In a way it's progress, but at the same time, we also need to remember that the community exists beyond this month. So yeah, it's...

Eddie Hooker: Yeah. You just come out in the street …

Vincent Wong: Exactly. And just be there, and then we disappear again. So it's important, even if it is just something small, to do something continuously throughout the year. I think that's where you can differentiate a business or someone who's really supporting the community versus someone who's just doing it for whatever reasons.

Eddie Hooker: Yeah. Absolutely.

Vicky Eldridge: Where do you think the industry has improved in recent years? So we've mentioned that the people are, I think becoming more open to conversations, but where do you think we're still falling short and where are there gaps?

Vincent Wong: I think one of the biggest things that I've seen would be a different price list for female and male patients, especially when it comes to things like hair removal and things like that. And I think that is probably one of the first things that needs to go.

Eddie Hooker: I didn't know that.

Vincent Wong: Really?

Eddie Hooker: Is that a practice that is quite common?

Vincent Wong: Very common in the UK.

Eddie Hooker: Wow.

Vincent Wong: Yes. So even for certain injectables like toxin, some people would charge more for male patients. Because obviously male patients, the muscles are a little bit stronger, they may require a bit more. But I think businesses need to really take a step back and then think about how you can have one price list which is more inclusive and not having that differentiating factor.

Eddie Hooker: Does that cause concern to the male population? They're thinking, "Why?" That's quite a good technical point that the muscles are stronger so therefore you might need a little more product. But is that explained to them?

Vincent Wong: Generally I would say yes. It is explained. But then the issue really is especially when someone is in the process of transitioning, then do they go for a male price list or do they go for a female price list? Especially in the early stage of transitioning, misgendering is quite a big issue and can cause a little bit of psychological trauma and things like that can be quite upsetting. So someone may still look like man, but they might identify as a woman. And then having that price list is going to create something unnecessary.

Eddie Hooker: This is quite important to me because obviously the theme of, the running story theme under all the podcasts we're doing is talking about safeguarding, talking about mental health and those sort of things. Do you think the aesthetics industry is recognizing the LGBT community and putting the right safeguarding procedures in?

Vincent Wong: Yeah, I think overall it is improving compared to what it was probably even five years ago. But there's still so much work that we can do. I mean, how many aesthetics clinics that we know that actually work with a healthcare professional for even normal patients, so to speak. It could be someone who just had a divorce or some major incident in life, they may want the treatment, but then they may not be in the right mindset for the treatment. And the same can apply to the LGBTQ+ community. So until it becomes standard practice, it's difficult to see that amount of improvement that we want to see. Yeah. When it comes to this space.

Vicky Eldridge: And I guess true inclusivity is that that will be the case for all patients.

Vincent Wong: Exactly.

Vicky Eldridge: That everybody will feel welcome. And I think very much we're moving into more personalised treatments anyway. So this idea of this price for that and this price for that, there should perhaps be a spectrum of prices that it would depend on your individual needs. And then that's... You are not then putting people in a basket, are you? You're not putting them under this label or under that label. And I think that's... We're seeing more personalisation ... I don't know if you're seeing that from the insurance side?

Eddie Hooker: Well, we are... Obviously we do, one of the requirements of insurance in this industry is the consenting process. And our last guest, we had this debate really about how much time do you spend... You mentioned having... Health and mental wellbeing being at the forefront of an offering in an aesthetic business. We are starting to see much better communication. The consenting process is moving away from that tick box, sign here. To a much more inclusive, what's your social background? What's your sexuality? What's your... I think a great comment you made there. What's the trauma in your life?

Vincent Wong: Yes.

Eddie Hooker: Because it doesn't have to be...

Vicky Eldridge: Whoever you are.

Eddie Hooker: It doesn't have to be gender.

Vincent Wong: Yeah, exactly.

Eddie Hooker: It could be the divorce, it could be I've moved house, it could be I've had cancer and I'm recovering. And that sort of thing. So I think we are getting better.

Vincent Wong: Definitely.

Eddie Hooker: I think there's a lot more we could still do, I think in the industry.

Vincent Wong: 100%.

Eddie Hooker: To have a lot more of that open communication before each treatment.

Vicky Eldridge: Yeah, absolutely. And actually we just touched on trauma a little bit there. And you've written a novel, haven't you?

Vincent Wong: I have.

Vicky Eldridge: You're very multi-talented. It's called 'Healing Scars'.

Eddie Hooker: I can't believe we are sitting with this guy.

Vicky Eldridge: I know. And that's your own story. It's based on your own story.

Vincent Wong: Yes, it is.

Vicky Eldridge: It's a fictional thing, but it's based on your own story, your own experience of coming out and dealing with trauma. Can you tell us a little bit about that and why you wanted to write that book?

Vincent Wong: Okay. So in that book, everything that you read has happened. But obviously I had to group a few people together and make it one character, and then move the timeline a little bit so it makes a bit more sense. But the reason why I wanted to do it was because my coming out story has been quite traumatic. And in lockdown I decided that I want to put everything down on paper. It's quite therapeutic for me. So I'm doing it for my own benefit. I remember speaking to someone who kind of helped me polish the whole thing to become what it is at the moment. And he was saying that, "You'd probably end up with a very expensive manuscript." I was like, "Okay." But then for me it wasn't so much about promoting it or making money or anything. I mean, that would be amazing. But if it makes a difference to someone going through something similar to what I've been through, then that's more than enough for me. And that's in itself very rewarding I find. So that's why I decided to put it all down together.

Eddie Hooker: What was the hardest bit, if you don't mind me asking? Was there one moment that you suddenly thought, "Wow, I can't believe this is the reaction?"

Vincent Wong: Yeah, the one moment would probably be when my... Also after I came out my mom didn't accept it to begin with. And then that led to a huge family drama. So my mom was away. I was very much on my own at that time with dramas going with my siblings and things like that. And I went into this situation where I struggled financially to pay for my own tuition fees as an international student. That was probably the moment where I'm like, "Oh, my God. How did I do that?" At the age of 19, 20.

Vicky Eldridge: Young, isn't it? So young. Yeah.

Eddie Hooker: Absolutely. I mean, I think family issues probably in my book would probably be... I would imagine would be probably the hardest bit. Do you think that was an age issue for your parents? They were more... What's the right word? A more old school or lack of understanding. Because I think a lot of... It's understanding.

Vincent Wong: Yeah, I think it's a mixture of everything. Lack of understanding, the cultural background, and things like that. I mean, me and my mum are okay now. Our relationship is better than ever before. But I think for her, I think for a lot of parents as well, you always want what's best for your kids. And I think in her mind at that time, the best thing for me is to be straight.

Eddie Hooker: Yeah.

Vincent Wong: Yeah. So because she didn't know any better and she wasn't exposed to the community or successful relationship stories from the community. So in her head that was the best that she could do for her kid. And that's why she was fighting for it. And then I think the key turning point for her was when she finally realised what I went through. And then she was like, "Oh, my God. Me wanting the best outcome for you has actually led to a lot more stress." And that's when our relationship started to improve.

Eddie Hooker: Yes, really... What strength. And how did you bring that experience into your practice?

Vincent Wong: So for me, when I treat patients from the LGBTQ+ community, that is one point that I can connect with them. Because a lot of members of the community have been through some sort of struggles and that we can always relate to one another. And sometimes, because I also do some charity work as well, so sometimes I see patients who have been through similar issues with their family. So then I can share with them my experience and also pretty much reiterate what I've just said. Try to think of it from your parents' point of view as well. With time, in my case, I was very fortunate that with time it did improve. But then at the same time, you also need to be more independent in case that relationship never improves.

Because we don't know. We can't predict that. So yeah, I think some of them find my story quite motivating, which is more than enough for me. And that is very rewarding. And that also builds a rapport that's so important in this field. Once they trust you, once they know that they're in good hands, then even if you make a mistake by accident, you say the wrong thing or whatever, they're a lot more forgiving.

Vicky Eldridge: I remember one of the things that you were talking to me about was about the gaps in accessing healthcare. And I just really didn't realise that... I know we went to a fabulous event and you did your I Am Me campaign years ago. But you were talking about that your own experience there as a medical student trying to access support of the medical services, that there were these gaps that people were experiencing. And that's something I wasn't aware of.

Vincent Wong: Yeah, it's quite a common thing. Where we don't necessarily get all the healthcare, whether it's aesthetics or some other things that we need. I mean, look at simple things like … How many people are struggling with it to get supply and the pricing of it and stuff like that. It's a lot better now, but then give it two, three years back, that wasn't the case. And it is something that can really benefit the community and general public in general. And something simple can be... I just feel like there are a lot of obstacles, a lot of hoops that we have to jump through.

Eddie Hooker: Are those obstacles and hoops to jump through, do you consider that prejudice or lack of information?

Vincent Wong: I think it's more lack of understanding and ignorance. And we've come a long way in the last decade or so, but then there's still a lot more that we can do.

Eddie Hooker: 100%. There's a lot of debate also, isn't there? And do you see issues with gender versus biological difference? And it's topical in the news at the moment as well.

Vicky Eldridge: So much so. Yeah.

Eddie Hooker: What do you feel...

Vincent Wong: And I think a lot of people get confused between sex, gender, and sexuality. And when I go to clinics or when I do the LGBTQ+ course that I do, that's one of the key things that I really focus on. So your sex is what you're at birth. Whether you're male or a female. And gender is how you identify. You can identify... You could be a biological male identifying as a female, a male, or none at all. So that's why we have non-binary and things like that. And with that, it links back to the pronoun thing that we were talking about earlier. So it's he, she, they or them. And these are important things that once you show understanding that you know what you're talking about, then all the fear, all the awkwardness just melts away.

Eddie Hooker: Yeah. I think to me it's more about education.

Vincent Wong: Exactly, yes.

Eddie Hooker: And even I feel, and we said this when we were chatting before we went on air, I just personally get very nervous about using the wrong terminology. And then you think, "Oh, have I upset."

Vicky Eldridge: Everyone does, don't you? Yeah. You don't want to upset somebody.

Eddie Hooker: So then you're pussyfooting around the whole… And then you dig yourself a deeper hole.

Vicky Eldridge: It's even worse.

Vincent Wong: I've been in that situation before.

Vicky Eldridge: And I remember you saying to me, it's about just sitting down and having that honest conversation.

Vincent Wong: Exactly.

Vicky Eldridge: Why is that so important to say to people, "What are your preferred pronouns? How would you like me to address you?" And you can ask that, can't you?

Vincent Wong: Yeah. Exactly.

Vicky Eldridge: People can have that conversation.

Vincent Wong: So the normal way I do it is, hi, I'm Vincent. My preferred pronouns are he, him. May I know what yours are? And that's a perfectly simple and acceptable way to break the ice, so to speak. And you'll find that it's amazing how people just connect instantly. And then based off of that, then you could always say something like, "We're going to go through your aesthetics consultation. We'll see what we can achieve. But if I suggest something that doesn't fit your beauty goals, please let me know." And then you have that understanding from the get go.

Vicky Eldridge: Just being honest and communicating with people. Because this is the thing, isn't it? That we fear so much about saying the wrong thing that as you said, that can then make it even worse. And just saying, "Do you know what? I actually don't... Educate me. Let me know. Tell me where you feel comfortable or tell me where I've..." Because I think most people fundamentally... Well, I'd hope. Maybe I'm being naive. Most people fundamentally want to do the thing, don't they?

Vincent Wong: Exactly.

Vicky Eldridge: They want to be kind. They want to be inclusive.

Eddie Hooker: Everyone is a person. At the end of the day, that's how I look at it. People are people, aren't they? Whether you are gay, straight, you identify differently. At the end of the day it's, if you're a nice person, you're a nice person. If you're a horrible person, you're a horrible person, in my view. And I want to treat everybody the same... As I would want to be treated, to be fair with me. Because you can have prejudices if you're straight. No different than you can if you are black or any other part of the population. So I do think, yeah, it's about education, it's about being yourself and it's about accepting. You with me?

Vincent Wong: Definitely. Yes.

Eddie Hooker: And I think that is really, really important. But I don't think you're naive. I think there are pockets of people that do not see it that way. And that's the prejudice, which you're not going to break down however much.

Vicky Eldridge: Yes. And do you have it in the other way? I mean, obviously a lot of the patients that you see will be coming to see you specifically, because they know that you understand their community, that you are going to be somebody that they can come to and feel safe. But do you get other patients where you might mention pronouns and they're a bit standoffish about it? Because I think some clinics might be worried that a patient will come in that doesn't relate well to that.

Vincent Wong: Yes.

Vicky Eldridge: And that might be another fear in doing the right thing in situations where they should be asking about it. Does that happen?

Vincent Wong: Yes. Exactly. It has happened so many times. Even some people that I've worked with in the past have been like, "Oh, you shouldn't really be talking about pronouns." I'm like, "Really? Welcome to 21st century."

Eddie Hooker: What, did you come out…

Vincent Wong: Exactly. Right? Some people... I've spoken to some business owners, they were like, "Oh, we're not sure about this whole pronoun thing. Because they might not fit with the type of clients." I'm like, "What clientele are you talking about?"

Vicky Eldridge: Humans.

Vincent Wong: Yeah, humans. Right? So yeah, it's a tricky one. And also I think the biggest challenge when it comes to patients... Well, it's more a cultural thing. So say for example, you have a patient from Asia or Middle East where homosexuality is a death sentence. So they may not feel comfortable talking about anything remotely to do with LGBTQ+ community. And anything with pronouns or sexuality, they just shut off completely. And I think the way that I counteract that is with email signatures, Instagram. I always have my pronouns there so that it doesn't come as a complete shock when we have that conversation. If they are not willing to talk about it, then okay, fine, we can continue other ways. But then I always include that to begin with.

Vicky Eldridge: Yeah, it should be an option for people who want to talk about it. And equally not.

Vincent Wong: Exactly. Yeah. You have to be fair on both sides, so to speak.

Vicky Eldridge: That makes a lot of sense. Are there any other ways we can be more inclusive within our clinics? Anything else that you feel that people could be doing?

Vincent Wong: So many things. It's just, I think having a good understanding of what you can do to help your patients is probably the key thing in all of this. Yes, we can talk about the whole pronoun thing, marketing thing, having a gender-friendly colour and stuff like that, and marketing material.

But I think the most important thing is to have the understanding and be open-minded to things. Yes, we have very typical feminine and masculine looks that we can achieve using surgical and non-surgical treatments. But then some people might want a mixture of two together. I think as an industry we are entering an era of personalised beauty. So that is more fitting with what your clients want, what suits their character best, rather than having this structure.

Vicky Eldridge: This is the masculine look, and this is the feminine look.

Vincent Wong: Yeah. There's masculine, there's feminine. And things like that.

Eddie Hooker: It's a very interesting point you make there, Vincent, as I'm listening intently to you is that, and I think even Hamilton Fraser fall into this trap. You look at our marketing for our cosmetic insurance, and I try to think we are a little bit more than just insurance. I think we take quite a big interest in the wider sense of the aesthetic market. But even when I look at our pictures, it's very stereotypical of the young pretty woman. You with me?

Vincent Wong: Yes.

Eddie Hooker: Now, obviously what I wouldn't want to suddenly do is make a massive big statement and go completely... Of a young man, so to speak. But we don't tend... I think the industry still has this view of aesthetics being for that perfect looking, fantastic... I mean, I was going to ask another question, because you were a judge at Miss Universe. And I actually want to ask about that, but do you get my point? It's that, whereas I think to be more... Not the word inclusive, but to be more open, I suppose. I think imagery in the sector …

Vicky Eldridge: That's changing definitely.

Vincent Wong: Yes, 100%. It's all about the visibility.

Vicky Eldridge: It is. Yeah, definitely. As a magazine editor we had, and you would see at all the shows, there was the same Shutterstock woman who actually probably wasn't even old enough.

Eddie Hooker: Getty Images.

Vicky Eldridge: Yes, they did. She wasn't even probably old enough for aesthetic treatment. You're talking about someone in their 20s or 30s that was used. And actually most people having treatments would be... The biggest group of people having treatments would probably be women 40+. And that wasn't even represented in images. And if you searched for it, you'd get... On the stock libraries, you'd end up getting some fuddy-duddy looking... And I said, "God, I'm 40. I'm 40." But that has changed now. There's more body types, more different body types.

Vincent Wong: Yes.

Vicky Eldridge: There's more diversity in terms of ethnicity, there's more age diversity. And now you've got that in the libraries that are available for imagery. I've noticed in the magazines that I work with that that is starting to change and there is a bit more diversity there. But you are right. However many years ago as well, there wasn't even the images available. You couldn't find them.

Vincent Wong: Exactly.

Vicky Eldridge: So you definitely couldn't find...

Vincent Wong: And I think that's quite tricky to make it perfect because visibility is not just... Okay, well, we're talking about LGBTQ+ community. It's not just having a gay couple or a lesbian couple. Each letter in the LGBTQ+, LGBTQIA, each one has to have its own visibility and it's difficult from a business point of view to include everything. But at the same time it's about getting the right balance I think.

Vicky Eldridge: And actually, can you go through with us what that means? Because I actually think that a lot of people don't know. And I will admit that when you said A, I was like, "I don't know."

Eddie Hooker: I just completely lost for the Q, actually. That's when I get to... Or the T. But yeah.

Vincent Wong: Right. I'm probably not the best person, but I'll try. So L is for lesbians, G is for gays, B is bisexual, T is trans, Q is queer. I is intersex, A is asexual. Yes.

Eddie Hooker: Again, is that because that's where the plus comes in?

Vincent Wong: Yes, exactly.

Eddie Hooker: Because you can add other groups?

Vincent Wong: Absolutely. And then within each group there are subgroups as well. So it gets a bit complicated.

Vicky Eldridge: And I think that's another way people come undone because they think, "Oh, I don't understand."

Vincent Wong: I can see how it's scary. Yes.

Vicky Eldridge: You think, "Well, I should know and I don't." And I think that's …

Eddie Hooker: I think coming from... I'm 57. Guys, I know you think I'm ... Obviously coming through the '70s and '80s where there was a huge amount of prejudice. And growing up all I ever learned was the gay community. And suddenly you end up with a lot wider … And I agree Vicky, I think sometimes that's where people start getting tongue tied. And then start getting embarrassed trying to... If you get it wrong, L, G, P... And then I find that myself. So I resort to the gay community. But that's probably not the right thing, is it?

Vincent Wong: Yeah, even terminology. When I started the I Am Me campaign, I started using the word queer. And then some people were like, "Oh, my God, that's so offensive." I'm like, "It's not."

Vicky Eldridge: [inaudible 00:28:01].

Vincent Wong: Yes.

Eddie Hooker: That was in the '80s.

Vincent Wong: Yeah. Exactly.

Eddie Hooker: That was, if you wanted to pick on someone, that's the terminology. A horrible word back in those days. But now...

Vincent Wong: It is acceptable. Yeah.

Vicky Eldridge: It's an empowering term. Isn't it? Yeah.

Eddie Hooker: You've been working with Jackie Knight?

Vincent Wong: Oh, yes, I have, yes.

Eddie Hooker: At A New You clinic in Brighton.

Vincent Wong: Yes.

Eddie Hooker: So the point there is makeovers for the transgender patients.

Vincent Wong: Yes.

Eddie Hooker: Talk a little bit about how you're working there.

Vincent Wong: Okay, cool. So Jackie has been an amazing supporter of the... Actually of all the work that I've done with the LGBT+ community. and Brighton being the LGBT hub, so to speak, for the UK. And also it was the first place that I went to when I moved to UK. So I did my A-Levels in Brighton.

Vicky Eldridge: Did you?

Vincent Wong: Yeah, I did. So it was a really nice thing to go down and to work with Jackie. Yeah, we do a lot of work for the transgender community, mainly surrounding non-surgical aesthetics. So we showcase what we can do. So it could be a combination of different treatments and people from various backgrounds and different stages of transition process, which is quite rewarding. Because how you treat someone at the early stages of transitioning is completely different to treating someone who has been doing it for eight, 10 years. So it's about doing the subtle changes to begin with and having a more dramatic impact at the end. And also I've learned so much. Like the whole misgendering, how hormone therapy actually affects the soft tissue, the distribution, the skin quality, what kind of skin …they may have, or they are going to face further down the path. And yeah, it's just been really, really rewarding.

Vicky Eldridge: It must be, because I know you said that with the non-surgical treatments, this is where they really play a part, don't they?

Vincent Wong: Yes.

Vicky Eldridge: Because they can help someone realise their identity in a way that's reversible.

Vincent Wong: Yes.

Vicky Eldridge: I know that you've spoken to me in the past about how someone can start to go down a road and changing their appearance and then they're not happy with it.

Vincent Wong: Realise it's not for them. Yeah.

Vicky Eldridge: Then you don't want something permanent, do you?

Vincent Wong: Exactly.

Vicky Eldridge: Non-surgical treatments are perfect.

Vincent Wong: They're ideal. Yes.

Eddie Hooker: And I think also that's quite a good entrance into this subject. Because also you hear a lot of talk about, is the LGBTQ+ discussion happening too young, for people that are too young? And I know that some schools are struggling. So having a makeover, so to speak, to me feels the right thing to do rather than jumping straight into...

Vincent Wong: Surgery, gender reassignment, and stuff like that.

Eddie Hooker:, and... Absolutely. And I think that's something which... Do you think that will grow, that sort of approach?

Vincent Wong: 100%. Yes. Definitely. And the thing is, I always say that transitioning journey is almost like it's a journey. It's not about your starting point and end point, and there's just one route you take. You can take so many different routes. And sometimes you decide that actually you don't want to go to the end route... The end destination. You just want to go back to where you started and go somewhere else. And that's perfectly fine. And with the benefit of having non-surgical is that it doesn't last forever. And that you can reverse it. And it just provides a safe environment for people who want to try, who are really serious about trying it to have a go and then see if it's for them.

Eddie Hooker: Yeah. Are there any educational facilities or opportunities for practitioners to learn more? I mean, this to me is fantastic. I'm learning and I thought I knew quite a bit, but I'm learning so much. But is there more opportunity for people to learn more?

Vincent Wong: Yes.

Eddie Hooker: Practitioners to learn more?

Vincent Wong: Absolutely. So I run training courses on the subject. Masculinisation and feminisation.

And also I am working with Antonia on a one-day conference called Transamerica. We're working on launching that.

Eddie Hooker: Beauty.

Vincent Wong: Yeah, beauty. Yes.

Vicky Eldridge: Oh, fantastic. And you're writing a textbook as well, aren't you?

Vincent Wong: Oh, yes. I forgot about that.

Vicky Eldridge: I remembered it because it's in my notes.

Vincent Wong: Yes.

Eddie Hooker: So we'll put those details on at the end.

Vincent Wong: Thank you.

Eddie Hooker: Because I think that it is so important that this subject is given the exposure, but also the sensitivity that needs to go with it.

Vicky Eldridge: Because you can do so much positive, can't you? For people when you're providing treatments. And I think one of the things is that people are frightened to get out of that masculine, feminine treatment. And even, I remember I was talking IMCAS about this, but it was... Or not IMCAS, AMWC. But talking about how actually some of the most beautiful women in the world, and this will lead you into your Miss Universe …

Eddie Hooker: You are prepping me up.

Vicky Eldridge: I'm prepping you. But have got what we would traditionally call a masculine jaw, squared jaw. Angelina Jolie and people like that who've got features that perhaps we would put them in this box. "Oh, that's a more masculine feature and that's a more feminine." And actually those definitions of beauty don't really exist, do they?

Vincent Wong: Yes, exactly.

Vicky Eldridge: I mean, I think most people would say she's one of the most beautiful women in the world.

Vincent Wong: Exactly.

Vicky Eldridge: And she's got that certain feature.

Vincent Wong: And some people think that having a strong jawline is actually quite... Shows you're confident, you take charge of things . There we go.

Vicky Eldridge: Go on then, ask about Miss Universe.

Eddie Hooker: I'm so excited about it. So Miss Universe Great Britain.

Vincent Wong: Yes.

Eddie Hooker: So how did you get involved and can I just ask what is it like to... I'd heard of Miss Great Britain, I'd heard of Miss World, but Miss Universe.

Vicky Eldridge: It's another whole level.

Vincent Wong: Okay.

Eddie Hooker: Can there be more good-looking people out there!

Vincent Wong: You know what? Growing up, Miss Universe was probably the only pageant that I knew. And then... Because I was growing in Malaysia. So in Asia. In Asian countries pageants are quite big. I think the biggest one was Miss Universe. And then when I moved here I learned about Miss World and then there's also Miss Galaxy.

Vicky Eldridge: Oh, wow. Miss Galaxy.

Vincent Wong: Yes.

Eddie Hooker: Is that slightly down from you guys.

Vicky Eldridge: I've got no idea.

Vincent Wong: There's Miss Tourism.

Eddie Hooker: Wow.

Vincent Wong: It's a lot of pageants. And I was just like, "Oh, my God." So I first went into pageant because when I started... Actually, the first few people that I've treated with toxin and fillers and stuff like that were pageant girls. And they are obviously very beautiful to begin with, but they need just a little bit of enhancement here and there. And I'm mainly treating skin quality and stuff like that. And through that I just made more and more connections in that world. And then the first judging role was actually for Miss London, for Miss England, which goes into Miss World. So I really enjoyed that. And then I started working with Amy Willerton.

Who was probably in the history of Miss Universe, the second-best representative we had from UK. So at that time I was helping her improve her skin quality. Not that she needed a lot of work. She was beautiful to begin with. And then she went into, I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here. And her career really progressed. And it's actually quite rewarding to be involved in that journey. And I spoke to the organisers of Miss Universe. And then they were like, "Oh, do you want to be the official aesthetics doctor for Miss Universe?" I'm like, "Oh, my God, I would love that."

Eddie Hooker: Absolutely fantastic.

Vincent Wong: And even at that time, I didn't know much about pageant. I mean, I follow it to an extent, but I don't know the ins and outs of it. And I actually had a very different idea of what it would be. Because you're just thinking, "Oh, beautiful women." Blah, blah, blah, blah. And it's all about the exterior, kind of thing. And then I got asked to be a judge. And I was like, "Okay, cool. I'm in. How difficult can it be?" Oh, my God, how wrong was I? So it's actually quite difficult because you're looking for someone who has stage presence, someone you will make people turn their heads. And at the same time they have to do charity projects, have to raise certain amount of funds.

Vicky Eldridge: Yes, and qualities as well.

Vincent Wong: Exactly. And then you need to know stuff like what they're going to do with that title. Because in all [inaudible 00:37:11] it's actually a full-time job. Because if they win Miss Universe, then they get a contract. So they get paid X amount every month. And then they have to do all these things.

Vicky Eldridge: That's their job.

Vincent Wong: Exactly. It's an actual job.

Eddie Hooker: Think of an ambassador. That's fascinating. Because that was one of the questions I was going to ask. Because beauty is very much in the eye of the beholder.

Vincent Wong: Yes.

Eddie Hooker: And I would've imagined, and you've just confirmed it, that actually it's not just about looks.

Vincent Wong: Yes, exactly.

Eddie Hooker: It's about a whole package of…

Vincent Wong: Yes. Brain, beauty, personality. Everything.

Vicky Eldridge: There's jokes about, "World peace." And that's what you see about pageants. You just see that sort of side of it where they go, "And world peace."

Vincent Wong: Exactly, yes. And then the interview rounds are usually the trickiest part because this is the moment where you see the contestants for the first time and they're probably getting ready so they're not in their best aesthetics appearance or whatever. But that's when you really get to know them. Because you ask all the questions and then you judge based on their answers alone without looking at them, so to speak.

Vicky Eldridge: Amazing.

Vincent Wong: Yeah.

Vicky Eldridge: It must have been fascinating.

Vincent Wong: The first few times I did the judging, I actually cried. Because some of them... You always ask them, "What's your motivation behind this?" And stuff like... And they tell you their story. And oh, my God, some of the stories I heard, I was just like, wow.

Vicky Eldridge: Amazing.

Eddie Hooker: I think I'd be in tears. But actually I quite think that's quite good. I like to show my emotion.

Vicky Eldridge: Yeah. It's nice to be emotional, I think. And it shows that people care about something. Doesn't it?

Vincent Wong: Exactly. Yes.

Vicky Eldridge: Absolutely. Amazing.

Eddie Hooker: Vincent. This did not disappoint.

Vincent Wong: Thank you. Thank you.

Eddie Hooker: I'm still starstruck. It's been so lovely talking to you and I've learned so much. And hopefully others listening in and watching will have the same feeling. So thank you so much.

Vincent Wong: Thank you for having me. It's been a pleasure.

Vicky Eldridge: Yeah, thank you. It's been so lovely. Always lovely to see you, but lovely to have you on the podcast.

Vincent Wong: Oh, thank you. Thank you so much.

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