Naaz Joshi: Making India proud

The transgender model on winning 'Miss World Diversity' 3 times in a row

Though Section 377 was decriminalised by the Supreme Court of India in September 2018, people of the LGBTQ community are still struggling to make a space for themselves in the society. One such individual, who belongs to this section of society – Naaz Joshi fought back all the odds and left no stone unturned to make the country proud. Naaz has become the World's first transgender to win 'Miss World Diversity' pageant for three consecutive years now. In an exclusive interview, she shares the struggles of her journey, experiences of the contest, and much more.

Being a transgender, how was your experience in 'Miss World Diversity' contest? Did you face any kind of inequality during the show?

It gives me immense joy and pleasure to represent my country at the international platforms. I feel there are problems in everyone's life (being born like this is mine), but overcoming those problems and emerging as winner is what we all should focus on. I have been participating in the contest for past four years now and every time I go they are new expectations and challenges. But speaking of the inequalities, I think I haven't faced the amount of inequality anywhere in the world, except India. I personally feel that my community is more accepted by citizens of other countries than ours.

What is the idea of beauty for you?

Opposite to the Indian concept of beauty! According to them, people who are fair are beautiful. I feel it's the heart that decides the beauty of a human being. Since the time I was born, I have seen my mom using fairness cream. I think it is important that we educate our society about the notion of beauty – which is beyond looks.

Tell us something about the initial years of your life – how did you deal with the identity, what problems did you face?

I was born in 1980, in a middle class family. My mother was a Muslim and Dad was Hindu. At a very early age, I witnessed various ups and downs – I was sent to my uncle's home, I was raped at the age of 11, and I worked at dance bars till the age of 18. I came to Delhi in the year 2002, where I did my three years fashion designing course from NIFT Delhi. Then, I worked with designers like Ritu Kumar and Ritu Beri. After that, I started working for a massage parlour and there I met the man who gave me my first break in modelling career – Rishi Taneja. He made biopic on my life and it was showcased at various places. During that time only, one of the news magazines decided to put my photo on its cover in 2015, and I became India's first transgender model. Post that, I started my own company which organises beauty pageants every year, and since then I have been working for women empowerment.

How do you think decriminalising LGBTQ in India will bring a change for your community?

After section 377 has been scrapped from our country, there have been changes in the society. I see that now, lesbians, gays and bisexuals are very much accepted in our country, however for the trans women; we still have a long way to go. I am hoping that discrimination against transgenders will decrease too.

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