Rafaela Manfrini of Brazil was the winner of the 2016 Miss Trans Star International pageant on Sunday.
This year the pageant had 28 participants from around the globe and was held in Barcelona, Spain. The event is considered the largest beauty pageant in Europe. The purpose for the contest goes beyond beauty as the contestants and organizers hope the annual event raises awareness of the transgender community around the world. This was their fifth consecutive year holding the event.
“I hope they see me and think that if you fight for a dream, you can achieve it.”
“I want to give voice to all who have no voice,” said Manfrini. “I hope they see me and think that if you fight for a dream, you can achieve it. With work, with determination. I want you to know that yes, you can.” Mafrini, a native of São Paulo, is also well known makeup artist in Brazil. She has been married to her husband for five years and dreams of one day raising a family.
The pageant also reflects the progress for the transgender movement on a global scale. This year there were participants from countries that currently have no rights for their transgender citizens. They included Egypt, Nigeria, Sri Lanka and Turkey. Representing Nigeria was Miss Sahhara, a British citizen who fled the African nation after twice attempting to take her own life and being beaten on the street for wearing a women’s scarf. “We just need to have the chance and right for us to be ourselves and to survive. Unfortunately, that is not allowed in my country,” she told the Associated Press. “I want to go back to Nigeria next year to try to teach them that to be transgender is something normal. We have blood in our veins and we are human beings.”
“Here all of us are winners already, we won our life.”
Another highlight of the night was Tallen Abu Hanna, Miss Israel, who finished as first runner up in the contest. The Christian Arab native of Nazareth was the winner of Israel’s first ever transgender beauty pageant this year. “Here all of us are winners already, we won our life,” Abu Hanna told AFP. ‘”I became a woman and I found peace between my body and my soul.”
Pageant organizer Thara Wells called the event, “a platform for denouncing discrimination against the LGBT community.” The contest took place over 2 days as the women took the stage is swimsuits, formal wear and costumes that reflected their homeland. To be eligible, contestants were not required to have undergone gender reassignment surgery, but had to present with “traditional notions” of feminine beauty. “This is an attempt to engage society,” said Wells, “We want to go beyond beauty and tell the life story of each girl.”
See the 28 contestants of the 2016 Miss Trans Star International Pageant in the gallery below: