Beauty pageants are ubiquitous the world over. But in Tel Aviv this year, one beauty pageant became historic — Miss Trans Israel was the country's first-ever transgender beauty pageant.
Talleen Abu Hanna, 21, becomes the first Miss Trans Israel in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Friday, May 27, 2016. | (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
In May, 12 contestants, selected among hundreds of women during three rounds of auditions, competed for the title. And the winner, 21-year-old Ta'alin Abu Hanna, a Christian Arab-Israeli ballet dancer, will represent the country at the Miss Trans Star International pageant in Barcelona this September.
In most Middle Eastern countries, homosexuality is, at best, not tolerated and, at worst, punishable by death. But in Israel, the government acknowledges transgender women as their chosen gender and allows them the same benefits as the rest of the country's female population. And Tel Aviv, the second-most populous city, boasts a thriving gay community. But despite official tolerance, the pageant contestants say they still struggle with acceptance from their families and the community in general.
After winning the competition, Hanna told the press she hoped the pageant would bring "more openness toward trans people in Israel and maybe the world. And will help people know who we are." Below, a look behind the scenes at Israel's first transgender beauty pageant.
Arab Israeli contestant Tallinn Abu Hana poses for the judges during auditions. | (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
Contestants selected from three rounds of auditions beginning in March of this year walk the catwalk during auditions. |(AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
Contestants practice their walk at Habima, Israel's national theater. | (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
An organizer leads the women through a practice session. | (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
Contestants listen to a choreographer during a rehearsal. | (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
Contestant Madlen Matar takes a break on her smartphone during rehearsal. | (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
A makeup artist cuts artificial eyelashes backstage during the pageant. | (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
A contestant gets her makeup ready backstage before competing. | (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
Contestants wait for their turn backstage. | (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
Contestants pose on stage during the swimsuit round of the competition. | (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)