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Transgender Women Making Inroads in Indian and International Beauty Pageants

The Pride Month ended on the perfect note when Kataluna Enriquez became the first openly transgender woman to compete in the Miss USA pageant this year. The 27-year-old became eligible for the pageant after she was crowned Miss Nevada last week. Kataluna paid tribute to the LGBTQ+ community as she celebrated her win, writing on Instagram, “My community, you are always in my heart. My win is our win. We just made history.”

The understanding of beauty is shifting and it’s evolving to be more inclusive. Closer home, one of the largest pageants in India Miss Diva 2021 has taken progressive steps in this direction. They have opened up the pageant for transwomen to participate in. Miss Diva is the pageant that sends its winner to the Miss Universe competition every year.

“Transwomen across the world have led exemplary lives full of stories that are not only inspiring but full of grit. They’ve participated in beauty pageants and we as a nation must also acknowledge their rights as we do for anyone else,” says Natasha Grover – head of the Miss India Organization.

The Miss Universe competition lifted a ban on transgender contestants in 2012 and the first transgender woman, Angela Ponce, Miss Universe Spain participated in the competition in 2018. Ponce had said that many people still do not understand what it means to be a transwoman.

India now joins Spain, Canada, Nepal, South Africa among other countries, in this movement of fostering transwomen to pursue their aspirations of becoming beauty ambassadors and icons. Several other countries are also opening up their pageants for transwomen.

The organizers of Panama’s national beauty contest have announced that transgender women who “have completed all their legal and medical procedures” can take part in its competition from this year. “Miss Panama will permit women officially legally recognized in the country,” said Señorita Panama. “Guaranteed to be an inclusive organization, we approved this decision based on strict legal guidelines and according to previous international agreements,” the organization added. The Señorita Panama pageant sends a contestant from Panama each year to the international Miss Universe competition.

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