Israel holds its first transgender beauty pageant

The transgender pride flag. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

( The first "Miss Trans Israel" beauty pageant was held at a club in Tel Aviv on Thursday. Thirty transgender women of different faiths competed, taking to the catwalk in stiletto heels and skinny jeans.

It was the latest event cementing Israel—and Tel Aviv in particular—as a gay-friendly area in the midst of a Middle East region where gays are frequently persecuted.

Although transgender individuals had a “terrible” life in Israel in the past, today they are much more accepted by Israeli society, said Israela Stephanie Lev, the pageant's organizer, the Associated Press reported.

"We are enlightening people to accept and empower transsexuals," she said.

The pageant wasn't limited to Jewish transgender women. The competitors included 21-year-old Talleen Abu Hanna, a Catholic Arab from Nazareth.

"We are normal people. This is normal," Hanna said.

Posted on March 4, 2016 .