On Friday, Israel hosted their first ever transgender beauty pageant, bringing together 12 trans women of different religions and ethnicities—among them Jewish bakers, Muslim dancers, and Christian ballerinas.
Taleen Abu Hanna, a 21-year-old Christian Arab woman, went home with the crown of Miss Trans Israel and in September will attend the Miss Trans Star International pageant in Barcelona.
"Our country deserves to come out on top," Abu Hanna told the press. "Our country allowed me, a Christian Arab from Nazareth, to end the war between my soul and my body. So if it made peace for me, our country is only a country of peace."
Although often war-stricken, Israel has liberal laws toward gay and trans people and is widely regarded as the only real democracy in the Middle East. They also have openly homosexual individuals serving in their military. Recently, Tel Aviv was dubbed the "Gayest City on Earth" by the Boston Globe.
Hanna's win marks a great moment of religious, ethnic, and cultural unity in a country often fraught with infighting. Hopefully this event can open doors for a new era of understanding and peace.