Israeli Christian wins first ‘Miss Trans Israel’ pageant

In this Tuesday, May 24, 2016 photo, contestants in the first Miss Trans Israel beauty pageant practice the walk on the stage during rehearsal in Tel Aviv, Israel. The pageant will be held at HaBima, Israel's national theater, in Tel Aviv on Friday. Tel Aviv has emerged as one of the world's most LGBT-friendly travel destinations, standing in sharp contrast to most of the rest of the Middle East, where gays can face persecution.

In this Tuesday, May 24, 2016 photo, contestants in the first Miss Trans Israel beauty pageant practice the walk on the stage during rehearsal in Tel Aviv, Israel. The pageant will be held at HaBima, Israel's national theater, in Tel Aviv on Friday. Tel Aviv has emerged as one of the world's most LGBT-friendly travel destinations, standing in sharp contrast to most of the rest of the Middle East, where gays can face persecution. AP Photo/Oded Balilty

TEL AVIV, Israel — An Israeli from a Catholic Arab family has been crowned the winner of the country’s first transgender pageant.

Talleen Abu Hanna, 21, from the northern city of Nazareth wore a white bridal dress as she was declared the first “Miss Trans Israel” on Friday at HaBima, Israel’s national theater, in Tel Aviv.

She describes her victory as “historic” and says it promotes equality.

She will represent Israel at the Miss Trans Star International pageant in Spain in August.

Israel is generally tolerant of gay people, and Tel Aviv has emerged as one of the world’s most gay-friendly destinations.

The Israeli city stands in sharp contrast to many parts of the Middle East, where gay people are often persecuted. But homosexuality is commonly shunned in religiously observant Jewish and Muslim communities.

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