Trans Mongolian beauty queen Solongo Batsukh won’t be hidden

Mongolian trans beauty queen Solongo Batsukh

Solongo Batsukh is Mongolia’s transgender beauty queen who, despite online backlash, refuses to stay hidden.

Meet Solongo Batsukh

Batsukh wants to end the myth that trans women can only be sex workers or strippers. To do that, she became a celebrity in her own country. The beauty queen has partnered with a salon to promote their products and services via Facebook Live.

In October, Batsukh participated in Mongolia’s first-ever Miss Universe pageant. Though she didn’t win, she joined Spain’s Miss Universe Angela Ponce in shattering the stereotypes about what trans women can accomplish.

‘I wanted to inspire as many women as possible,’ Batsukh told South China Morning Post (SCMP). ‘But I’m still proud that I got the chance to compete in this contest.’

Online backlash

However, not everyone was happy about Batsukh’s participation in the pageant. She was met with a lot of online vitriol.

‘The world would have a negative image of our country if a man represents us while there are thousands of beautiful and real women in our country,’ one person wrote on the Facebook page for Miss Universe Mongolia.

LGBTI in Mongolia

According to a 2014 UN survey, over 80% of LGBTI Mongolians remain in the closet. Batsukh is one of the few who dares to live her truth out loud.

‘It is extremely difficult for transgender people to be employed,’ Baldangombo Altangerel, legal program manager at the LGBT Center of Mongolia, told SCMP.

Batsukh didn’t become aware of her gender identity until she was in her 20s. It came as she was learning about different sexual orientations in college. She began transitioning while working with Youth for Health, an NGO providing safe-sex education for LGBTI people.

‘I had to reveal myself [as transgender] so I could correct the misunderstandings in society. If we keep hidden, society will keep on hating us. They don’t know us,’ she says of her coming out.

Batsukh has used her public image to appear on television and social media, advocating for transgender rights. According to SCMP, she is currently in the process of creating a reality makeover show.

Anything else?

Mongolia criminalized anti-LGBTI hate crimes in 2017, and hosted its sixth Pride festival last August.

Author: Rafaella Gunz

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Despite being crown Miss Universe Spain, Ángela Ponce still faces anti-trans backlash

Ángela Ponce, Miss Universe Spain

Ángela Ponce of Spain became the first trans women to be crowned Miss Universe back in June. Despite this trailblazing win, Ponce is still the subject of anti-trans bigotry in the media and online.

Ponce’s win

‘I have to win not just for me but for all the people in Spain and around the world so the situation changes. Not just for the LGBTI collective but for all of humanity. I’m not just another Miss Universe candidate who wants world peace; I have a very powerful message of tolerance, hope, respect, love for oneself and others. I want to do all this under the Spanish flag,’ Ponce told EL PAÍS fashion magazine S Moda after winning the title.

At that time, though, Ponce didn’t seem to expect the harassment that would be thrown her way.

Backlash

Since her win, Ponce has been the topic of anti-trans media reports throughout Latin America. They have gone so far as to show childhood photos of Ponce, as well as photos of her without makeup. Numerous television programs in Mexico, Argentina, and Venezuela have spent hours on the subject of Ponce, debating whether or not she’s truly a woman.

Twitter users added fuel to the fire by sharing memes questioning Ponce’s femininity and her right to compete in the pageant.

Other Miss Universe contestants, both former and current, have also made comments about Ponce to the press.

‘They may call me old fashioned but I think there should be a competition, which already exists, for transgender people and another for girls,’ Vivian Sleiman, Miss Venezuela 2001, recently said.

‘I believe that a beauty pageant like Miss Universe is for women who are born women,’ echoed Valeria Morales, Miss Colombia. ‘And I believe that for her it will also be a disadvantage. And so we’ll have to respect it but not agree with it.’

Morales will be competing against Ponce in this year’s Miss Universe pageant, taking place on 17 December in Bangkok, Thailand.

Being the Bigger Person

Despite all this hatred, Ponce remained strong and positive, seemingly taking the higher road.

‘I respect her [Morales] and I respect that that is her opinion, but I don’t want to go to Miss Universe with any prejudice against her or any other colleague,’ Ponce responded on Instagram.

‘My goal is to make people aware of my reality and to talk a little to the world about the lack of education on diversity. An important factor that without doubt leads to so much bullying, prejudice and violence. I ask for respect for both my fellow competitor Valeria Morales and for myself.’

Author: Rafaella Gunz

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