Talleen Abu Hanna won Israel's first transgender beauty pageant in Tel Aviv. The Christian Arab ballerina from Nazareth calls her Miss Trans Israel win a show of the country's potential.
"Our country allowed me, a Christian Arab from Nazareth, to end the war between my soul and my body," Abu Hanna told reporters, according to Reuters
. "So if it made peace for me, our country is only a country of peace."
Orthodox Jews and Muslims were among the 12 contestants; organizers, judges, and contestants alike expressed hope that the pageant would demonstrate what acceptance should look like. Although Israel allows gay and transgender people to serve openly in the military, they often still experience the same kind of violent opposition to their freedom seen elsewhere.
"Israeli people like transgenders but they don't have enough information about transgenders," pageant judge Efrat Tilma told Reuters.
Abu Hanna will go on to represent her country in the Miss Trans Star International
pageant in Barcelona in September. Ahead, see what went on behind the scenes and on stage at the pageant.