Meet The First TransWoman To Be A Miss SA Contestant
25-year-old Lehlogonolo Machaba is among the top 30 Miss SA contestants vying for this year’s title. She shares why she entered the pageant
Why did you decide to enter Miss South Africa 2021 and why do you deserve to win this title?
Transgender women are almost always ostracised from such opportunities which is why I never thought I’d see anyone like myself on such a platform. I believe that being chosen would raise hope in a lot of little girls like myself. It has always been a dream of mine to represent my community at such a high level. The daily murder of queer and trans-identifying people in our country is devastating. Through the Miss South Africa platform, I’d be able to advocate for the LGBTQIA community and more specifically queer-identifying women. I would use this opportunity to empower every marginalised person and become a beacon of hope for young girls out there regardless of whatever it is they think hinders them from attaining whatever goal they have. With patience, perseverance and hard work they can attain anything they put their minds to.
Tell us about your biggest disappointment and how you bounced back from it.
When I lost an opportunity to travel to Milan for the Gucci fashion show because of my gender marker and not having the necessary documents to change it. Through that, I’ve learned that failure is just a redirection of something bigger and better and used it as an opportunity to speak out about my identity on social media which has inspired a lot of people and has educated them on the necessary steps one should take when transitioning.
What do you think is the biggest problem facing young people today?
High unemployment and lack of access to information about opportunities that getting an education can bring.
Who are your role models?
My mother. She is the true definition of a strong woman, she survived GBV and lengthy years of being unemployed, and yet through all those challenges she came out strong and graceful. Through her I’ve learned to never settle for anything below your worth and to put God first before all your plans. Amazing results come to those who know when to fight and when to wait patiently.
In what way do you think beauty pageants are still relevant today?
Through beauty pageants, we’ve seen society and communities aspire for change, inspiring young women to be exceptional and believe in changing the world for the better like Zozibini Tunzi. Young girls like myself are being inspired to dream big and chase their dreams. Beauty pageants are more relevant than ever and are highly inclusive and updated. We’ve seen them transition over the years from including women with different body shapes, skin tones, different backgrounds to now allowing transgender women like myself to enter.
What is your message to young girls and young women in South Africa?
Dream beyond your imagination and always prioritise your education and mental health first.
What do you love about South Africa?
The fact that we are a rainbow nation that is full of diversity.
What is one thing you would like to change about South Africa?
The stigma against queer and trans-identifying individuals.
If you won the Miss South Africa crown and were able to meet one person, who would it be and why?
Laverne Cox. I see myself in her and love what she stands for as a transgender woman and am highly inspired by her ongoing advocacy for women and transgender individuals. She was the first transgender woman to win an Emmy and the first on the cover of Time magazine and continues to break the mould and be an inspiration to all women out there.
What is the one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I enjoy cooking.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Be authentic at all times because you stand out.
Follow Lehlohonolo on her social media platforms
- Facebook: Lehlogonolo Machaba
- Instagram: @Lehlogonolo.Machaba
- Twitter: @De_lehlogonolo