In the city of Gurgaon, India, the country’s very first transgender beauty queen was crowned. In a hotel lobby, 16 contestants fought for the crown of Miss Transqeen India that celebrate the diverse beauty of the sprawling country’s trans and gender-fluid community. The winner of this year’s pageant, 26-year-old Kolkata-based Nitasha Biswas, will go on to compete internationally in Thailand in March 2018.
Unlike other beauty pageants where participants walk away as losers, this pageant celebrated each and every person on stage, calling the participants “winners,” for their bravery to live their lives and stand up on stage.
According to CNN:
Miss Transqueen India is the brainchild of Reena Rai, a former business owner who once sold tortillas to the TGIF restaurant chain.
Rai was inspired to create the pageant after listening to a number of hijra — a traditionally revered, yet ostracized group of male-to-female transgendered people in India — discuss issues facing their community.
“I realized that … change was not coming,” Rai said. “When straight people like me … actually stand up for the cause and fight for them, only then the change will come.”
Rai quit her job and devoted nine months of her life to putting together the competition. She sunk her energy and savings in to the pageant, having at one point only 10,000 rupees ($156) in her account.