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Naaz Joshi

Naaz Joshi – India’s First Transgender International Beauty Queen

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Get ready to know Naaz Joshi, India’s first transgender international beauty queen who is inspiring a generation of trans women across India and the world.

Her journey from a struggling transgender person to a beauty pageant winner and activist is nothing short of extraordinary. With her unwavering determination and grit, Naaz has not only broken stereotypes but also paved the way for many others to follow in her footsteps.

Childhood and Humble Beginnings

Naaz Joshi was born on December 31, 1984, in Delhi, India, to a Muslim mother and a Hindu father. Her childhood was marked by several challenges, including discrimination and rejection from her family and society due to her gender identity.

Her early school days were filled with bullying from students for how femininely she presented herself. Her teachers would often teach her to walk like a boy but she constantly defied them.

Naaz Joshi
Naaz Joshi – Facebook @naazjoshi12

When she was seven, her parents sent her to a relative’s house in Mumbai. After her move, she was forced to do all the household work and was not allowed to go to school.

However, she persevered and worked at a Dhaba in the morning and went to school in the afternoon. When she turned 11, she was sexually assaulted by five men, one of them being her cousin. She wasn’t able to tell the police about the crime from the threat of her abusers.

Transitioning

During her teens, she met a transgender woman who became her mentor. After understanding her gender identity through the experience and wisdom that she gained, she decided to live as a transgender woman.

She started dressing up and was offered a job as a bar dancer. Her job was also instrumental in financing her school fees.

Graduation and Working in Fashion

Luckily, she met Viveka Babaji when she turned 18. Viveka is a famous model from Mauritius. She sponsored Naaz’s education fees and she was able to complete her studies at the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT).

Naaz Joshi
Naaz Joshi – Facebook @naazjoshi12

In 1998, she topped all of the semesters and soon after, she worked with famous designers Ritu Beri and Ritu Kumar. However, she faced discrimination once again at work and was called different names for the way she presented herself.

Gender Reassignment Surgery

Naaz underwent gender reassignment surgery (GRS) in 2013. She was able to finance it by working in the adult industry by selling her body. Because of her drive to finally become the woman she was destined to be, she braved going to the hospital alone.

Blossoming Career

Working in the adult industry has opened a lot of opportunities for her. Not only was she able to undergo GRS, but she also met Rishi Taneja, a photographer who planned on making a documentary about her. He was fascinated by her life and was interested in sharing the pain of transgender women.

He took photos of her for a year, along with mundane shots of her daily life. The photos were featured in an exhibition in Milan. In 2016, she became the cover girl for Tehelka magazine and was also the first transgender woman to grace a magazine cover in India.

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Life As a Beauty Queen 

Naaz Joshi’s life as a beauty queen began in 2013 when she participated in the Miss Republic International beauty pageant in Delhi. Though she did not win, she caught the attention of many with her poise, confidence, and determination.

Naaz Joshi
Naaz Joshi – Facebook @naazjoshi12

Her participation in the pageant marked the beginning of her journey to challenge stereotypes and represent the transgender community on a global platform.

Naaz went on to participate in several other beauty pageants, including Miss International Queen and Miss World Diversity, which she won in 2018. Her win at Miss World Diversity made her the first Indian transgender woman to win an international beauty pageant, bringing her immense recognition and fame.

As a beauty queen, Naaz has been vocal about promoting inclusivity and diversity. She has used her platform to create awareness about the struggles and discrimination faced by the transgender community in India and around the world.

Her Thoughts on India’s Gender Laws

According to Naaz Joshi, India has yet to develop a sensitivity to gender issues. She points to the Trans Bill of 2019, which stipulates that sexual harassment of transwomen is punishable by only two years of imprisonment, compared to seven years for natural-born women.

Naaz Joshi
Naaz Joshi – Facebook @naazjoshi12

In a country where women still face regressive attitudes and politicians appeal for votes by promising to prevent rape, Naaz questions whether freedom of expression is truly achievable.

Even in urban areas and India’s capital, members of the transgender community are often subject to derogatory terms even after undergoing gender reassignment surgery.

Naaz notes that teasing and discrimination against the transgender community are commonplace in India. Being transgender in India is an uphill battle, and marginalized communities like hers receive little attention from the government, who do not see them as a significant vote bank, according to Naaz.

Her Thoughts on Indian Beauty Standards

She has noticed that beauty standards in India have become increasingly strict, with fairness cream advertisements claiming that fair skin can unlock Miss India titles and high-ranking jobs.

Despite this, Naaz believes that true beauty comes from within and that Indian beauty standards need to change for both women and transgender people.

She has experienced firsthand the difficulties of breaking these standards, being turned down for acting roles in web series because she does not look “extremely female-looking.”

Her Thoughts on Indian Trans Beauty Pageants

As an international beauty queen, she believes that beauty pageants are a step in the right direction, but they need to change their focus. In India, it’s mostly about physical beauty, while internationally, it is more about community service and internal beauty. 

Naaz Joshi
Naaz Joshi – Facebook @naazjoshi12

She has used her crowns to spread awareness about gender sensitization and to speak out on behalf of marginalized communities like transgender people and underprivileged children.

Today, Naaz Joshi is a celebrated beauty queen and a well-respected figure in the transgender community. Her journey as a beauty queen has not only brought her fame and recognition but has also paved the way for greater acceptance and inclusivity for the transgender community.

She continues to inspire and empower young people to dream big, fight for their rights, and challenge the status quo.

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About the author

Amanda Valentine Dela Cruz
Amanda Valentine is a transgender woman who has written about trans topics for over 10 years for My Transgender Date. She is an author who made it on Amazon’s best-seller list by writing 5 books on trans women’s relationships. Her book “Dating Transgender Women for Gentlemen” peaked at #3 in the Transgender Studies category on Amazon. She started writing at the age of 10 and won a poetry contest in 4th grade which convinced her to pursue a career in literature. Her personal experiences as a transgender woman give her a unique perspective on trans topics.

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