A finalist at this year’s Miss Universe Nepal is making history whether or not she takes home the crown on Wednesday night.
Angel Lama, the first transgender woman to be a finalist in the pageant, is competing against 17 other contestants for a chance to represent Nepal in the global Miss Universe Pageant, Reuters reports.
“I have come to Miss Universe Nepal to show the diversity of people in the society,” the 21-year-old finalist was quoted as saying. “If I stand on that stage and showcase this, that will be the biggest crown ever.”
Lama recalled a childhood where she would hang out with girls and play with barbies, according to Where Love is Illegal
. She remembered she was bullied for her attraction to boys throughout high school, leading her to drop out of college.
“I could not make friends, and people started to call me an introvert, gradually after my strange behavior and alienating nature I dropped out of my college,” she said.
At 16, Lama worked hard to help pay off her mother’s medical debts following major surgery to her reproductive area. Someone she was familiar with helped her pursue a Bachelor of Dental Science in Kathmandu, where she started a new life following her parent’s divorce.
Lama, who worked for the LGBT+ rights group Blue Diamond Society won an LGBT+ pageant in 2018 and was crowned Miss Pink Nepal. Her family initially was not accepting of her being a trans woman, but they eventually came to terms with it after her win.
There are currently less than a dozen countries in the world accepting trans contestants in national pageants.
In Asia, only Myanmar and Mongolia have previously allowed trans women to participate. Nepal recently followed suit after the pageant’s new management allowed any “bold, beautiful and confident woman” between 18 and 28 years of age to join.
Miss Universe Nepal national director Nagma Shrestha, the first Miss Nepal to represent her country in the global Miss Universe pageant in 2017, says she always wanted to do “something good” for the LGBT+ community.
“Everyone is equal, whatever their sexual orientation,” said Shrestha. “If they say they are women, they are women, and they should be treated like women.”
The global pageant will be held in the first trimester of 2021, according to News 24