Naaz Joshi: From being abandoned to winning Miss Universe Diversity; Story of the 1st transgender beauty queen

Naaz Joshi, the first transgender beauty queen and winner of 6 international pageants, shared her struggles and excerpts from being abandoned to making the country proud, yet unable to make a name for herself.
Naaz Joshi,transgender,Miss Universe Diversity Naaz Joshi: From being abandoned to winning Miss Universe Diversity; Story of the 1st transgender beauty queen
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In the sea of discrimination and harassment, India has become a difficult place for diversity, and it can be frightening for people who challenge the norms of everyday life. Despite the efforts of several communities to bring a change in society, transgenders continue to fight their own battle in the hope of being treated equally, if not more. With beacons of hope shining bright like an armour on her shoulders, Naaz Joshi, who is India’s first transgender beauty queen talks about her struggles and the change she hopes to see in society. 

Naaz Joshi has made India proud by winning yet another title, Miss Universe Diversity 2020. Competing with contestants from 30 countries, this is her 6th international crown for the country. The Miss Universe Diversity organisation held the pageant digital this year due to COVID-19. From the various online tasks given to the contestants, Joshi opted for women safety and self-defence. She educated women in rural areas about the importance of self-defence. 

A mother to two girls, Joshi participates in various pageants to earn a name for herself so that she can voice her opinion and have the power to bring the change she hopes to see one day. 

From abandonment to molestation to her kids 

Born on 31 December 1984, Joshi was abandoned by her family. She said, “I was molested till the age of 18 by many people, including my teachers, cousins and paternal uncle.” Despite the odds, she managed to pursue her studies, which she sponsored herself. She completed her NIFT degree and IMT from Ghaziabad with the help of her late cousin sister, Viveka Babajee. 

“My father and I never talked, and my mother still physically abuses me because of my identity; for her, I am still a curse,” she stated. “We can stand against verbal and physical abuse from anyone, but it becomes even more difficult when it’s from your immediate family,” Joshi said.

She found her family in two girls who she adopted. “If I ever got true love from someone, it is from my children,” she explained. 

The motivation and support 

When asked about the motivation behind the participation in this competition all those years ago, she said, “I always wanted to earn a crown, which made me participate in my first competition which was the Miss United Nations in Jamaica. I have won six titles over the years, including Miss Universe Diversity and Miss United Nations Ambassador 2015. I want people to know me and support me so that I have enough power to raise my voice against all odds. But sadly, I still live a life of a commoner even after winning six beauty contests for India,” she shared. 

“God is my biggest support system in all those ups and downs. I tie Rakhi to Lord Krishna. Meditation and prayers to God has kept me going so far.” 

The never-ending challenges 

Naaz said, “My biggest challenge has been funding myself for sex reassignment surgery and then going all alone to the hospital and getting it done. Whether it’s a vaccination for my kids at the hospital or travelling in public transport alone at night with men leching at me, everyday life has always been challenging.”   

She stated, “I have won so many titles for the country, but I am still unemployed with no projects or a decent job in hand. I am making my living through fundraising on Milaap organisation website and begging in the morning. Being a postgraduate from IMT, I still have to beg because I am a trans woman. I have applied for several jobs, but to no use.” 

Living in a society dominated by physical appearance, Joshi says, “People like me who don’t have enough money for facial feminisation surgery are still a victim of discrimination and hatred.” 

Naaz mentioned, “Accept the way we are! Gender sensitisation programs need to begin from school level, students need to be taught that we are all equal. It is necessary to regularise these programs both by the government and non-government organisations to eradicate disparities. I wish there is equality for all. Transgender models should get paid modelling opportunities. Groupism should stop. I would want sex reassignment surgery to be free of cost. Facial feminisation surgery for trans women should be covered under health insurance.” 

“I want to become a celebrity so that I have the power to speak up for people’s rights. I want to open an orphanage for girls. But all that needs money and people’s support,” she concluded.