The Internet at the Speed of Thought

A Catholic Israeli Arab Just Won the First Miss Trans Israel Pageant

at 6:15 pm | By

At the intersection of love and beauty.

With all the terrible things we hear about happening in the Middle East, it’s important to look for rays of hope and happiness.

The first Miss Trans Israel was held in Tel Aviv last week, and the winner represents an amazing intersectionality of cultures; a flower of acceptance in a part of the world that many do not associate with forward-thinking social movements.

Even as America deals embarrassingly with the sudden prominence of trans rights issues, other parts of the world are leading the way and showing that people of all shapes and sizes should be accepted for who they truly are, and not just for whom they outwardly appear to be.

Pageant winner Talleen Abu Hanna (alternately spelt Talin abu Hana) is a perfect example of how a mix of cultures is a beautiful way to break from the mold.

“Our country allowed me, a Christian Arab from Nazareth, to end the war between my soul and my body,” said the 21-year-old winner. “So if it made peace for me, our country is only a country of peace.”

miss trans israel winner gown

Credit: Lior Mizrahi/ Getty Images

This is her story.

Miss Trans Israel

miss trans israel makeup

Credit: Menahem Kahana/ Getty Images

Talleen Abu Hanna was born in Nazareth, the hometown of Jesus Christ, located in Israel’s Northern District. The 21-year-old was born male but completed her transition into a woman in Thailand last year, where she met many other trans women of Arab descent who were used to keeping their true identities secret from friends and family while at home.

Abu Hanna, however, considers herself lucky.

LGBT Rights in Israel

miss trans israel winner hug

Credit: Lior Mizrahi/ Getty Images

“I wouldn’t be alive if I grew up in Palestine,” Talleen said, “Not as a gay man, and definitely not as a transgender woman.”

But that doesn’t stop Talleen, who is Arab, from considering herself Palestinian as well. Born in Israel, Abu Hanna is a Catholic Israeli Arab, and along with her transgender status, that makes her just about as diverse as they come in terms of contemporary social issues.

Luckily for Talleen, Israel has the most advanced LGBT rights in the Middle East, and she enjoys privileges that aren’t even available to trans people in many Western countries. While some of its near neighbors punish homosexuality with death, LGBT Israelis can freely serve in the military, legally consent to sexual acts without repercussion, and although same-sex couples cannot get married in Israel, they are recognized as married couples, can live together, and can adopt children. Sex changes are covered by the country’s public health insurance.

“I got really lucky to live in a country where they bring everything to you on a silver platter,” said Talleen.