Lehlogonolo Machaba misses out on Miss SA Top 10

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Lehlogonolo Machaba

Lehlogonolo Machaba, who made history as the first transgender woman to compete in the Miss SA pageant, has sadly failed to make the Top 10.

On Tuesday, it was confirmed that Machaba will not go forward in this year’s contest after the Miss South Africa organisers disclosed the ten final contestants.

Last month, the stunning 24-year-old from the North West was revealed as one of the Miss SA 2021 Top 30, making her the first out transgender woman to take part in the country’s most high-profile pageant

“My story doesn’t stop here, we still have a very long way to go,” said Machaba on Facebook after the disappointing news.

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.

She’s said that one of her aims in taking part in Miss SA was to increase LGBTIQ+ representation and create awareness about matters that affect the community.

Machaba also revealed that she was convinced to enter the pageant by her friend Sam Mbatha, who is believed to have been murdered and burnt in the boot of his car in June in what’s suspected to have been a hate crime.

“Everything I do as a dark-skinned, transgender woman is a statement. My mere existence in society is threatening and there’s a lot of closet transgender women who are afraid to come out in fear of receiving hate and, even worse, being killed,” she recently told the Sunday Times.

“By doing this I am helping all those women to know that there’s still hope and the world is changing for good, slowly but surely,” she said.

Even though her Miss SA journey has come to an end, Machaba has already made an indelible impact on the country and the transgender community through her visibility and powerful words.

Her Top 30 selection followed confirmation by the pageant organisers in May that transgender women were welcome to enter and take part in the Miss SA 2021 contest.

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.

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