Last week Israel held its first ever transgender beauty pageant, where 12 trans women competed to become the first Miss Trans Israel, set to represent the country at Miss Trans Star International this September in Barcelona.
21-year-old Taleen Abu Hanna, a Christian, Arab ballerina, was crowned the winner over competitors from diverse backgrounds, including a Muslim belly-dancer and a Jewish confectioner.
"Our country deserves to come out on top," Hanna said. "Our country allowed me, a Christian Arab from Nazareth, to end the war between my soul and my body. So if it made peace for me, our country is only a country of peace."
Pageant judge Efrat Tilma spoke about how the pageant would increase awareness for trans people in Israel, saying that “Israeli people like transgenders but they don’t have enough information about transgenders".
“Among us there are judges, there are doctors, there are lawyers, there are people who are working in hi-tech positions and, as well, people who would like to go to the Israeli parliament and to represent us in our parliament," she told the crowd at Tel Aviv’s Habima National Theatre.
Israel is known for its liberal laws regarding gay and trans people, with an estimated 25 per cent of the population identifying as LGBT. The Boston Globe dubbed Tel Aviv the "Gayest City On Earth" earlier this year.