American magazine The Week gives us another behind the scenes look at the Jewish, Muslim, and Christian contestants vying for the title of Miss Trans Israel.
Beauty pageants are ubiquitous the world over. But in Tel Aviv this year, one beauty pageant became historic — Miss Trans Israel was the country’s first-ever transgender beauty pageant.
In May, 12 contestants, selected among hundreds of women during three rounds of auditions, competed for the title. And the winner, 21-year-old Ta’alin Abu Hanna, a Christian Arab-Israeli ballet dancer, will represent the country at the Miss Trans Star International pageant in Barcelona this September.
In most Middle Eastern countries, homosexuality is, at best, not tolerated and, at worst, punishable by death. But in Israel, the government acknowledges transgender women as their chosen gender and allows them the same benefits as the rest of the country’s female population. And Tel Aviv, the second-most populous city, boasts a thriving gay community. But despite official tolerance, the pageant contestants say they still struggle with acceptance from their families and the community in general.