Campaigners have criticised a transgender beauty pageant which offers the winner gender reassignment surgery.

The Miss Gay and Ms Transsexual Australia 2016 pageant was branded “irresponsible”.

The pageant, which takes place in Melbourne this weekend, allows contestants the chance to win gender reassignment surgery at a Thai hospital.

It is part of the Midsumma festival, an LGBT event run by volunteers.

The president of the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons, Hugh Bartholomeusz, has said that offering the surgery as the pageant’s main prize is “irresponsible”.

He said it “trivialises something that should be only undertaken after careful consideration and research”.

“Gender reassignment is not something to be entered into lightly and requires multiple expert consultations with both surgeons and psychologists,” he went on.

“The Society also warns Australians that any form of surgery carries risks and when people travel overseas for operations there are less likely to be appropriate cooling off periods and adequate provision for after care should complications occur.”

However the founder of the Midsumma festival has defended the pageant, saying it is intended to “promote awareness” of trans issues.

Gayzha Davao told the Herald Sun: “I’m not really in a position to say whether the hospitals in Thailand would be inferior compared to Australia, because they’re all good hospitals.

“They’re also really quick, and I think the hospital is really safe; we’ve had people who went there and got good results.”

The hospital at which the surgery is offered is accredited by Joint Commission International.

Not available in many jurisdictions, those who choose to undergo gender reassignment surgery often find it difficult to fund it, or have been subjected to long processes of evaluation in order to qualify.

The surgery is often assumed as the final step of transition, however many trans people choose never to undergo gender reassignment surgery.