India Holds First Transgender Beauty Pageant To Promote Acceptance And Change

"The change has begun and it's here to stay."

India has been making strides for equality for everyone in the last few years. In 2014, India's Supreme Court recognized a third gender category for those who identify as transgender. At the beginning of 2017, India's health ministry issued a new sex education guide that addresses same-sex relationships, contraceptives, and gender roles.

Just last week, India's Supreme Court ruled that privacy is now fundamental for every citizen so those in the LGBTQ community cannot be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation.


And just a few days after that landmark ruling, India's first-ever transgender beauty pageant was held.

The Miss Transqueen India pageant was created by former business owner Reena Rai with the goal of celebrating gender fluidity and promoting acceptance.

CNN reports that Rai was inspired to develop the pageant because she realized that, despite the progress with some rulings, discrimination and inequality were still issues for many members of the transgender community. She spoke with a number of hijra, a group of female transgender people, who are still facing ostracism today.

"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."

So, she quit her job and spent nine months preparing for the pageant, funding it with her own money.

The conclusion came on August 27 when Miss Transqueen India 2017 was held in Gurgaon. The pageant featured 16 contestants from all over India who were judged by an 11-person panel including transgender activist Gauri Sawant and Ms. Transsexual Australia.

The pageant concluded with Nitasha Biswas being crowned the very first Transqueen. She wrote on Instagram, "The journey of emotions. A mere gratitude will fall less for this moment. Privileged to win the title of Miss Transqueen India 2017 Season 1."

She added in another post about the pageant:

"The change has begun and it's here to stay."

There has been greater transgender visibility in the media with Harper's Bazaar India becoming the first Harper's Bazaar international edition to feature a transgender model on the cover in September 2016. A Vick's India ad from April 2017 also highlighted the tender relationship between a transgender mom and her daughter, and the importance of adoption rights.

Check out the video below to see more from Miss Transqueen India 2017:


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