Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Human Interest

Israel holds its first transgender beauty contest

TEL AVIV, Israel — Nearly 30 transgender women strutted down the catwalk in skinny jeans, crop tops and stiletto heels at a Tel Aviv club on Thursday, vying for a chance to enter the first Miss Trans Israel beauty pageant.

Tel Aviv has emerged as one of the world's most gay-friendly travel destinations, standing in sharp contrast to most of the rest of the Middle East, where gays can face persecution.

Israela Stephanie Lev, the pageant's organizer, said that in the past it was "terrible" living as a transgender woman in Israel. But today, people are more accepting, she said.

"Definitely we are achieving, enlightening the people to accept and empower transsexuals," she said.

Among the contestants was Talleen Abu Hanna, a 21-year-old from a Catholic Arab family in the northern city of Nazareth. She said she came to the audition because she wants to do something with her life.

"I have this something, I am a dancer, and I am a singer, I play the trumpet. I have something to give the people," she said. Although Israel's more conservative Arab society is often unaccepting of gays, Abu Hanna said her family accepts and supports her.

"We are normal people. This is normal," she said.

Elian Nesiel, a 20-year-old contestant, said she believes that being transgender is "gradually accepted more and more."

"Yes, it's a process, like everything," she said.

Israel is generally tolerant toward gays and transgender people. Gays openly serve in Israel's military, as does at least one openly transgender soldier. In 1998, a transgender singer, Dana International, won the popular Eurovision song contest.

But homosexuality is shunned in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities. Last year, an extremist ultra-Orthodox Jew stabbed a teenage girl to death at a Jerusalem Pride parade.

Finalists will compete at a pageant in May, and the winner will represent Israel at the Miss Trans Star International pageant to be held in Spain in August.

 
Comments
You can buy the balls from Amalie’s Beach Tampa exhibit at auction

You can buy the balls from Amalie’s Beach Tampa exhibit at auction

More than 100,000 people showed up at Amalie Arena in 2016 to frolic in a huge ball pit. It was a sea of 1.2 million white orbs so vast that grown men could belly flop and remain afloat. Almost two years after the Beach Tampa packed up, some 15,000 l...
Published: 01/18/18
4 women accuse filmmaker Paul Haggis of sexual misconduct

4 women accuse filmmaker Paul Haggis of sexual misconduct

LOS ANGELES — A civil lawsuit charging Oscar-winning filmmaker Paul Haggis with raping a publicist has prompted three additional women to come forward with their own sexual misconduct accusations, including another publicist who says he forced her to...
Updated one month ago
Reasons to find hope in music, movies, theater and more for 2018

Reasons to find hope in music, movies, theater and more for 2018

This was the year that took Tom Petty. That fact alone qualifies 2017 as one of the most soul-sucking, 365-day nightmares on record. But 2017 couldn’t stop there, could it? Oh no. Put the latrine fire that is our nation’s widening politi...
Updated one month ago