Shaine Soni is India’s new Miss Transqueen and very soon she will be heading for the world stage, determined to speak on the behalf of India’s transgender community.
On Saturday, Fashion designer Shaine Soni was crowned India’s New Miss Transqueen. Miss Transqueen is the country’s beauty pageant for transgender women, Now, Shaine will represent India at next year’s Miss International Queen, which is the world’s biggest pageant for transgender women.
Miss Transqueen India that was first held in 2017, involves everything that a beauty pageant includes – photoshoots, talent rounds, elaborate costumes, judges, and hundreds of audience members. Though because of the pandemic, the organizers found it difficult to organize the pageant. But Reena Rai, chairwoman and founder of Miss Transqueen India wasn’t ready to give up. She made sure to send a contestant to represent India in the 2021 international pageant. While sharing details about her pageant, Rai told CNN:
“My pageant isn’t just about beauty, it is about empowerment and inclusion..If I am going to send someone without holding a competition, then I have to make sure that they are a very strong candidate, the best of the best, someone who knows the value of (becoming Miss) Transqueen India.”
While sharing details about Soni, Rai mentioned:
“She has always been a very strong backbone for Transqueen India. I told her that because you’ve been with us and how important it is, and because you have been struggling with publicly coming out, this might be the best platform to do so because it is something that a lot of people will draw strength and inspiration from.”
Shaine Soni: Inspirational Story From bullied child to pageant queen
Soni, who was born biologically as a boy, identifies as a girl from a young age. Though she always wanted to be a girl, her relatives and friends forced Soni to act like a boy. With time, she faced increasing pressure from relatives and friends who would discourage her from growing her hair long, wearing “girly” clothes, or having “effeminate” mannerisms.
“With so much pressure and bullying around me, I desperately felt I was different and that there was a problem in me.”, says Soni during an interview.
She was just 17 when Soni left home to pursue her education in fashion. And a few years later, Soni underwent hormonal therapy. While sharing how she was alone during the process, she said:
“A lot of my friends gave up on me, they could not understand…But I was very determined, so I went ahead and did everything on my own.”
Soni never officially came out to her family, but they stayed in touch after she transitioned. While sharing how it took her time to become comfortable with the idea to come out, she mentioned:
“When Reena approached me for Miss Transqueen India for the first season in 2017, I was always there to support her but I wasn’t comfortable coming out at that time because of family pressure,” Soni said.
Further adding, how she’s ready now to take the stage publicly as Miss Transqueen India, she shared:
“I am in a place where I can accept this title because I have gone through so much and know how difficult it is to be where I am today…If someone reads about me and finds comfort, I think my purpose is absolutely met.”
Though this year the pageant might not have BEEN multi-day events, still this pageant is a powerful tool to influence society how we see LGBTQ people. While sharing how she wants to be the voice of those unheard, Soni mentioned:
“It is not just about me — it gives me the opportunity to hear the stories of those who have felt unheard for years and can’t be vocal about what they feel. I can be a voice for them.”
At IFORHER, we wish Soni all the best and hope she will inspire many more souls to shatter social norms to live life on their own terms.