India crowns new Miss Transqueen

India has a new Miss Transqueen — and she’s headed for the world stage, determined to speak out for the country’s marginalized transgender community.

Fashion designer Shaine Soni was crowned Miss Transqueen India, the country’s beauty pageant for transgender women, on Saturday. She will represent India at next year’s Miss International Queen, the world’s biggest pageant for transgender women.

Miss Transqueen India was first established in 2017, and involves all the trappings of a traditional beauty pageant — photoshoots, talent rounds, elaborate costumes, judges and hundreds of audience members.

Soni, a fashion designer and stylist whose work is known on the pageant circuit, has previously helped coach contestants and pick their outfits. For years, she stayed relatively quiet about her own transgender identity while struggling for acceptance from her family and friends — but she was encouraged to step forward for the title.

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