Israel holds its first transgender beauty contest

Contestant Elian Nesiel poses for the judges during auditions for the first Miss Trans Israel beauty pageant in Tel Aviv, Israel, Thursday, March 3, 2016. The winner will represent Israel at a Miss Trans Star International pageant to be held in Spain in August.

Contestant Elian Nesiel poses for the judges during auditions for the first Miss Trans Israel beauty pageant in Tel Aviv, Israel, Thursday, March 3, 2016. The winner will represent Israel at a Miss Trans Star International pageant to be held in Spain in August. AP Photo/Ariel Schalit

TEL AVIV, Israel — Nearly 30 transgender women are competing to become the first “Miss Trans Israel.”

Contestants strutted down the catwalk at a Tel Aviv club on Thursday wearing skinny jeans, crop tops and stiletto heels.

Tel Aviv has emerged as one of the world’s most gay-friendly travel destinations. The Israeli city stands in sharp contrast to most of the rest of the Middle East, where gays are persecuted or even killed in some places.

Finalists will compete at a pageant in May, and the winner will represent Israel at the Miss Trans Star International pageant to be held in Spain in August.

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