Lehlogonolo Machaba has made Miss South Africa history
Lehlogonolo Machaba has become the first transgender woman to compete in Miss South Africa after she was selected for this year’s Top 30.
On Tuesday, the country’s most high-profile pageant announced its 2021 Top 30 finalists, which includes the stunning 24-year-old from the North West.
Machaba holds a diploma in fashion design technology from the Tshwane University of Technology. She works as a model booker and is the founder and owner of the DeMollies fashion brand.
In her spare time, she volunteers at a local LGBTQIA centre, helping young people complete university and job applications.
“Thank you all for all the love and support,” Machaba said on Twitter following the announcement.
“I’m doing this for all the marginalized people, the girls, gays and ‘theys’ who’ve always been told that they will never amount to anything THIS IS FOR YOU.”
She added: “This journey has been nothing but a great one and all of you have made this worthwhile. I am the first-ever TRANSWOMAN to make it to top 30 and promise to advocate.”
Last month, Machaba told True Love: “I strongly believe that it’s about time that someone raises the issues and creates awareness about matters that affect the LGBTIQ+ community. The killing of queer and trans-identifying people in some parts of our country is devastating. Every day you hear of a queer person being killed in South Africa.”
Her selection follows confirmation by the pageant organisers in May that transgender women were welcome to enter and take part in the Miss South Africa 2021 contest.
Supporters have until 21 July to purchase bundles to vote for Lehlogonolo Machaba through Computicket.
The mainstream pageant world is becoming more LGBTIQ+ inclusive. In 2018, Ángela Ponce from Spain became the first openly transgender woman to compete in Miss Universe. In 2019, Swe Zin Htet from Myanmar took to the Miss Universe stage as the pageant’s first openly lesbian contestant. That same year, Sibabalwe Gcilitshana became the first openly queer woman to participate in Miss South Africa, reaching the top 16.
Miss South Africa 2021 will be crowned in October when the current Miss South Africa Shudufhadzo Musida passes on the title.