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

The post Trans Mongolian beauty queen Solongo Batsukh won’t be hidden appeared first on Gay Star News.

LGBTI Mongolians ask ‘will you hug me?’

A gay man stands in Mongolia's capital (Photo: Gonto Erdeneburen)

Three brave LGBTI Mongolians declared their sexual orientation or gender identity and asked members of the public for a hug.

The LGBT Centre Mongolia organised the social experiment in the capital Ulaanbaatar to mark Human Rights Day.

One of the organizers, Jack Ganbaatar, said the center wanted to raise the LGBTI community’s visibility.

‘There are only a few brave LGBTI activists and trans figures that are out and proud, and raising awareness in Mongolian society’ he told Gay Star News.

One gay man, one lesbian, and one trans man took part in the activity. They each stood with a sign stating their gender identity or sexuality at a busy intersection for 30 minutes.

Homosexuality is legal in Mongolia and the country’s Criminal Code theoretically protects the LGBTI community from discrimination.

But, conservative attitudes mean most people remain in the closet.

‘We were nervous about how the society would respond’, Ganbaatar told Gay Star News.

Surprising reactions

Ganbaatar said people’s reactions were ‘mixed’. Over the hour and a half, there were 30 hugs in total.

The online video also evoked diverse reactions.

There were many negative comments including death threats, according to Ganbaatar. But, some netizens also came out as allies for LGBTI people.

On the day, however, public reaction to the different community members was surprising, Ganbaatar said.

‘Mongolians were less tolerant towards the gay man compared to the lesbian woman and trans person’ he told Gay Star News.

What’s more, he also said the experiment revealed some misconceptions about transgender people in Mongolia.

The general public assumed the trans man was a trans woman. Trans women are the most visible members of the LGBTI community, Ganbaatar explained.

Life for LGBTI people in Mongolia

Mongolia is leading the way for LGBTI rights legislation in East Asia. The country’s Criminal Code protects LGBTI people from discrimination based on gender identity or sexuality.

It is also relatively easy for trans people to change gender on official documents.

But, according to Ganbaatar, the reality for LGBTI Mongolians is still harsh.

Police do not take hate crimes against LGBTI people seriously. Attacks, therefore, often go unpunished, he said.

Media and politicians often ridicule the community. There are not many out LGBTI personalities in the country.

‘The community is living in fear and most likely to stay closeted’ he said.

Author: Rik Glauert

The post LGBTI Mongolians ask ‘will you hug me?’ appeared first on Gay Star News.