Tuesday, September 18, 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
'Game of Thrones,' 'Mrs. Maisel' and a proposal highlight Emmy Awards

'Game of Thrones,' 'Mrs. Maisel' and a proposal highlight Emmy Awards

LOS ANGELES — Amazon's The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel became the first streaming series to win top Emmy comedy honors and HBO's Game of Thrones recaptured the best drama series award Monday at a ceremony that largely slighted its most ethnically di...
Published: 09/18/18
Lens on Pasco wildlife: Park supervisor shares encounters with his pictures

Lens on Pasco wildlife: Park supervisor shares encounters with his pictures

NEW PORT RICHEY — For Mark Berlinger, getting the best shot is a matter of serendipity. Being in the right place. Looking up at the right time. Hearing a rustle and following a notion to take the lens cap off your camera and shoot.Often, the right pl...
Published: 09/13/18
New Miss America glad she didn’t have to don swimsuit to win

New Miss America glad she didn’t have to don swimsuit to win

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — The first woman to win the Miss America crown without having to don a swimsuit says she’s glad she didn’t have to. Nia Imani Franklin, who won the title Sunday night in Atlantic City while competing as Miss New York, said the ch...
Published: 09/10/18
Judy Garland’s stolen ruby slippers from ‘Wizard of Oz’ are found

Judy Garland’s stolen ruby slippers from ‘Wizard of Oz’ are found

MINNEAPOLIS — Federal authorities say they have recovered a pair of sequined ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz that were stolen from a museum in her northern Minnesota hometown 13 years ago. The slippers were taken from the Judy ...
Published: 09/04/18
Local Loudmouth Lip Attire founder makes a colorful statement, and you can, too

Local Loudmouth Lip Attire founder makes a colorful statement, and you can, too

TAMPAAmber Parker loves to stand out in a crowd.And with a vivacious personality and a funky personal style, the petite 32-year-old certainly makes a bold impression.So it’s only fitting that her makeup line, Loudmouth Lip Attire, features vibrant an...
Updated one month ago
‘What the hell did you do to my daughter?’ He was accused of a crime he swore he never committed; she believed her 4-year-old

‘What the hell did you do to my daughter?’ He was accused of a crime he swore he never committed; she believed her 4-year-old

ST. PETERSBURGOn the evening of the accusation, before the police came, Austin Holcomb walked to his neighbors’ house to get his son.The boy, who was almost 4, had been playing there all afternoon.The neighbors’ house was a wreck. That Saturday, they...
Updated one month ago
Zephyrhills High rallys to support ‘the greatest kid,’ who’s in a fight for his life

Zephyrhills High rallys to support ‘the greatest kid,’ who’s in a fight for his life

ZEPHYRHILLS There was a swelling of Bulldog Pride as students, many donning orange and black school colors and "I Run For Zack" T-shirts, flocked to the gymnasium for the afternoon pep rally at Zephyrhills High. • The marching band played rousing...
Updated one month ago
Looking for Leo: It’s all politics at a nightclub for seniors

Looking for Leo: It’s all politics at a nightclub for seniors

PALM HARBOR — Regulars call it the "fallout" or the "mishap" or the "situation."It has been eight months, but the breakup of Leo’s Italian Grill and its longtime band, True Passion, resonates like a fair-to-middling car crash. Not fatal but nasty, bo...
Updated one month ago