Miss Transqueen India 2020 Crowned

Miss Transqueen India 2020 Crowned

India has a new Miss Transqueen — and she’s headed for the world stage, determined to speak out for the country’s marginalized transgender community, reports here stated. Fashion designer Shaine Soni was crowned Miss Transqueen India, the country’s beauty pageant for transgender women, last week. She will represent India at next year’s Miss International Queen, the world’s biggest pageant for transgender women.
Miss Transqueen India was first established in 2017, and involves all the trappings of a traditional beauty pageant — photoshoots, talent rounds, elaborate costumes, judges and hundreds of audience members.
This year, organizers were unable to hold the competition due to the pandemic, which prompted a national lockdown from late March to May. But Reena Rai, chairwoman and founder of Miss Transqueen India, wasn’t ready to give up; she was determined to send a contestant to represent India in the 2021 international pageant.
“My pageant isn’t just about beauty, it is about empowerment and inclusion,” Rai told CNN in a phone interview. “If I am going to send someone without holding a competition, then I have to make sure that they are a very strong candidate, the best of the best, someone who knows the value of (becoming Miss) Transqueen India.”
Soni seemed like the obvious choice; as a fashion designer and stylist whose work is known on the pageant circuit, she has previously helped coach contestants and pick their outfits. For years, she stayed relatively quiet about her own transgender identity while struggling for acceptance from her family and friends — but Rai encouraged her to step forward for the title.
“She has always been a very strong backbone for Transqueen India,” said Rai. “I told her that because you’ve been with us and how important it is, and because you have been struggling with publicly coming out, this might be the best platform to do so because it is something that a lot of people will draw strength and inspiration from.”
While Soni was born biologically male, she identified as a girl from a young age — and was confused and dismayed when people around her began insisting she was a boy, and told her to act and behave like one.
As she grew up, she faced increasing pressure from relatives and friends who would discourage her from growing her hair long, wearing “girly” clothes, or having “effeminate” mannerisms, she said over the phone. “With so much pressure and bullying around me, I desperately felt I was different and that there was a problem in me.”
She found some relief when, as a teenager, she began researching and stumbled upon information about gender identity and gender confirmation surgery. She ended up leaving home at 17, pursuing an education in fashion, and transitioning with hormonal therapy a few years later — a process that she described as “difficult.”
“A lot of my friends gave up on me, they could not understand,” she said. “But I was very determined, so I went ahead and did everything on my own.” Shaine Soni will represent India next year at Miss International Queen. Credit: Courtesy Shaine Soni

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