Miss Brazil Rafaela Manfrini won the Miss Trans Star International beauty pageant in Barcelona on September 18, beating out 30 other women from around the world.
Manfrini, a makeup artist in Sao Paolo, thanked friends, fans and family on Facebook, as well as the trans community worldwide. “I’m so excited and I promise I will represent them well.”
Robert Marquardt/Getty Images
Talleen Abu Hanna of Israel, who won first runner up, told AFP, “Here all of us are winners already—we won our life.”
A Christian Arab from Nazareth, Abu Hanna was won Israel’s first Miss Trans competition in May.
“This is an attempt to engage society,” said Thara Wells, the contest’s founder. “We want to go beyond beauty and tell the life story of each girl.”
For some, that story has been a hard one: Miss SaHHara represented Nigeria at the pageant, but had to flee her homeland when she was a teen.
“In the street, they were always attacking me, harassing me,” she said. “I came back home and my family would harass me, they said ’you’re wrong, you need to change, act like a man’.”
She attempted suicide twice and was jailed for wearing women’s clothing. Eventually SaHHara fled to London where she found asylum and a chance to live as her authentic self. She hopes to raise awareness of what trans women like her face.
“I will try to influence people or perhaps influence my government to revoke 14 years imprisonment for LGBT [people] in Nigeria.”
Below, watch a behind-the-scenes video from the 2016 Miss Trans Star International Pageant.
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