World

India Crowns First Transgender Beauty Queen

Nitasha Biswas, 26, was crowned as India’s first “Trans Queen” in the 2017 “Miss TransQueen India” beauty pageant on Sunday.

Sixteen beauty queens competed in India’s first transgender beauty pageant, with the winner heading to Thailand in 2018 for an International Beauty Queen Pageant according to CNN. Ms. TransQueen India 2017 is a “step to empower and support gifted young transgender women to achieve their full potential,” the TransQueen website reads. “Beauty cannot be defined. It cannot be bonded; not by colour, race, names or gender. It’s how beautiful you feel inside.” The website adds that “confidence is how you feel inside, and it reflects in your eyes. It is not something physical.”

Unlike in other pageants, all the contestants were declared winners because they succeeded by competing in the pageant, but the contest did ultimately crown one winner, Biswas. “From a very young age I knew I was a gender dysphoria. I knew I wanted to change this, but at the same time, I knew I needed to complete my basic education,” Biswas told The Better India.

“I realized that … change was not coming,” said Reena Rai, the founder of the pageant. “When straight people like me … actually stand up for the cause and fight for them, only then the change will come,” she added.

The pageant included judges and mentors to help guide the transgender contestants through the pageant events, as well as a jury panel. The judging panel included Ms. Transsexual Australia and transgender activist Gauri Sawant. “I am a vibrant, ageless Transexual woman who believes in the power of dreams,” said one of the judges, Laeticia Raveena.

The audience at the transgender event was small, and most were friends of the contestants or people who identify as LGBTQ, CNN noted.

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