Meet Dipanjali Chhetri, the first transwoman participant of LIVA Miss Diva 2021
After the pageant organization took progressive steps and made an informed decision to allow transwomen to compete for the coveted crown, Dipanjali, a beautician, model, and transwoman rights worker, is now in the running for the prestigious title. "I am proud that I grabbed this opportunity to become the first transwoman to participate in one of the most recognized beauty queen creator platforms - Miss Diva. It's not just a stage for me to showcase my beauty and talent, but this opening has enabled me an opportunity to prove who I really am - A woman. It's a great moment of pride for all those transwomen who aspire to be beauty queens, models and showcase their true selves. It was possible only because of this historic decision of inclusivity by Miss Diva, counting transwomen like any other women. So now that the door is open, I wish many more women from my community will participate without hesitation each year," exclaimed an overwhelmed Dipanjali.
When you are constantly being looked down upon by society based on your sexuality, it's not easy!
Dipanjali, who hails from Jaldhaka Village in Kalimpong district, West Bengal, found it really hard to explain her struggle to her family, and especially to her mom and dad, who were parents to five daughters and one son Sarwan Chhetri (now Dipanjali Chhetri).
Like most Indian families who count on their son to carry forward the family name and share responsibilities, it was difficult for her family and relatives to accept that Dipanjali was just another woman trapped in a man's body! And even after years of testifying her reality, to no avail, the diva ferried to Delhi to redefine her social identity and make a future for herself. With no money or roof over her head, Dipanjali finally reached out to Mitra Trust, an organization run by Rudrani Chhetri for transgender people. It was then, by their support, the queen finally managed to hold ground, get her surgery, strived hard to work to build a career, and win acceptance for who she is.
On being asked about her plans and expectation with her participation at Miss Diva, she stated, "Miss Diva accepting me for who I am is the best gift I could ask for. I promise to give my best performance and make my country proud. As society keeps giving me a new name every single day, I want to make sure that they remember my name - Dipanjali Chhetri, even after my participation at LIVA Miss Diva 2021."
Owing to the social stigma surrounding gender identity, Dipanjali had to endure more than her fair share of challenges to achieve inclusivity and acceptance at the workplace and residential area. Yet, the diva holds all those who supported her (even her family, who finally accepted her post-surgery) in high regards and gratitude, and looks forward to a new and bright beginning. "I would like to thank everyone who supported me and loved me the way I am — also thanking those who failed to accept me and thus inspired me to work hard and recognize my dreams. I believe in caring and supporting each other no matter what. So love everyone, and expect the same in return," she said as she signed off.
August 16, 2021, 11:21 am