India has held its first ever transgender beauty queen contest – and it was fabulous.
Kolkata’s Nitasha Biswas triumphed over 15 other competitors – each of whom represented different Indian states – to win the inaugural event.
Last year, the Indian government approved a bill to protect the rights of trans people, making a competition like this much more plausible.
The beauty queens were chosen from more than 1,500 applicants from all over India.
In a moving Facebook post, Nitasha said that she was “honoured to be a part of this journey.
“It is an emotional moment made over years.
“This journey would have been impossible without these pillars,” paying tribute to “all my people who have stood up over years and [continued] our endless fight.”
She said to all of these heroes: “this winning moment is ours.”
And, Nitasha added graciously: “All my other 15 contestants – we are the winners.”
The 26-year-old, who is studying to gain a Masters in Business Management in her home state, will now go on to represent India at the Miss International TransQueen in Thailand, in March.
The first runner-up, Loiloi from Manipur, will be sent to Miss Transsexual Australia next year.
And pageant creator Reena Rai said that the organisers were searching for another international competition to send the second runner-up, Ragasya from Chennai.
Gauri Sawant, a trans social activist who was one of the jury members, hailed the competition and its effects on trans people in India.
Sawant starred in a tear-jerking Vicks advert earlier this year about life as a single trans mother raising an orphan in India.
She said: “This is the first organised pageant on a national level for the transwomen after the Nalsa judgement, so I strongly believe that this is going to empower transsexuals”.
Sawant added that the competition will help people because it will allow them “to dream of winning the crown and representing their country and community on an international platform.”
Trans people in India suffer high levels of discrimination, with nearly half of all trans children being subjected to violence before they turn 18.
They also face social exclusion, discrimination, and lack of access to educational facilities.