New beauty pageant in Northeast India champions trans contestants

With the beauty pageant having crowned its first-ever victor, organisers already speak of bringing more diversity into next year's competition.

Northeastern India trans contestants Aria Deka, and Rishidhya Sangkarishan kiss the crowned victor Lucey Ham on stage as they hold flowers and wear crowns in traditional Indian garb.
Image: Twitter via @LesgotvNaija

A trans beauty pageant in Northeast India has crowned its first-ever winner, contestant Lucey Ham from Itanagar. “I am overwhelmed with joy. I have nothing to say. I will never forget the biggest moment of my life,” expressed Ham after her amazing victory.

The diverse beauty competition was held on November 30 in Guwahati, India where it promoted the heritage and culture of Northeast India while also celebrating the beauty and individuality of trans women across eight of the country’s different regions.

Twenty women competed for the top title in Miss Trans Northeast 22 by dressing up in their most beautiful outfits and voicing their experiences being trans in India. One contestant, Anilya Boro, came to the pageant and received major support from her parents in the crowd which she said was validation for her.

“I must prove to my parents that I can do something as a girl,” said the 22-year-old. “I didn’t win a title, but I am very happy that my parents were at the show to support me. Now they have accepted my decision to live as a girl and undergo surgery, but they don’t want me to rush through.”

Although the crown went to Lucey Ham at the beauty pageant, Aria Deka and Rishidhya Sangkarishan, both from Assam in the far northeast, were runners-up and looked stunning beside the winner as they showered her with praise and kisses.

The event was organised by Trans Queen 2014 winner Ajan Akash Barauah. She resided in New Dehli, the Indian capital, for 13 years working as a fashion designer but moved back to her hometown of Guwahati during the recent global pandemic. Barauah began to notice the lack of representation of trans women in her town and wanted to change that. And so, she planned the Northeastern India beauty pageant, and with the help of friends and organisations supporting the transgender community, the event was a great success.

Although India is becoming more accepting of the LGBTQ+ community socially and politically, the struggle continues. Many queer Indians still face discrimination such as being denied jobs, education and healthcare along with getting rejected by their loved ones. Barauah expressed that spreading awareness about transgender people and educating people about their rights is what motivated him to start the beauty pageant.

“They should know about gender equality everywhere. Even when you go to the office or a hotel or a public toilet you have the right to ask for proper facilities,” said Barauah. With the massive success of the trans Northeastern India beauty pageant, Akash Barauah has shared what they plan for next year, “The Miss Trans NE pageant on 30 November was only for (those) who identified themselves as women. Next year, it will include transgender men as well.”

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