Miss Trans Queen India 2020 Shaine Soni Says She Found Comfort In Fashion And Acceptance In The Industry
There is a certain stigma around the people with different gender identities and sexual orientation than what has been prescribed as normal or natural by the society. It took the Indian Constitution decades to recognise transgenders as legal citizens of India who are entitled to legal rights and equal opportunities. And, sadly, even in 2020, they are oppressed, excluded and thus, lack representation in almost all industries. But there are certainly some empowering transwomen who are breaking the ceiling and paving the path for others from their community. One of them is fashion designer and stylist Shaine Soni who has been crowned Miss Trans Queen India this year.
A fashion mogul by profession who owns a brand called Nude, Soni says that she chose a career in fashion because she found comfort in fashion and thought she would be accepted there. Soni felt the same too. She told in an interview with Livemint, “I come from a creative background, so I have always had a strong inclination for art and craft. Also, during the whole turmoil I had in myself during my teens, fashion was a place where I found comfort, where I knew I would be more accepted.”
Fashion is the inarguably the most inclusive and accepting industry that doesn’t judge people on their gender identities and sexual preferences and, in the recent years has been evolving into a more diverse platform bringing in a positive change by representing people of different colour and body sizes. We need a better public understanding of trans community in India so they can find the same comfort and acceptance in all walks of life, which as of today is seriously lacking.
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Having worked as a stylist to former contestants of Miss Trans Queen India, she shed the light on how difficult it is for a transwoman to source designer clothes as opposed to cisgender women. And while there are many reasons to this such as clothes tailor-made for the standard size of a slender Indian woman, the bigger problem is the lack of representation of transwomen in films doesn’t allow the designers to lend clothes possibly since they won’t bring any publicity their collection.
She said, “Everybody talks about trans women on the surface. People say that we’re there with them, but that’s just talk. When you try and get some designer clothes, sometimes you have to really request or use your stylist card, but there’s always this little hick they have, saying, ‘No, this is made for a woman’s body’. If you’re sourcing clothes for Miss India, they’re more than ready to give because she’ll probably ultimately make her way to Bollywood. So designers have this foresightedness of marketing their clothes through them. But if you talk about transwomen, we do not have any representation in Bollywood in the first place.” For the pageant, she is designing and making her own clothes.
After winning the title of Miss Trans Queen, she wants to she said she wants “to be a voice for the community and portray trans women in the best way possible, as opposed to what they read and know about Indian transwomen. I want to show them a contemporary Indian transwoman who is educated, working and leading her life on her own terms.” She feels that in India, transwomen are often looked down upon and undermined. But they don’t need sympathy, rather respect and equal opportunities. “It’s high time we change how we perceive transwomen in India. They are not people you look down upon or have sympathy for. We are no different. All the previous Miss India, Miss World, Miss Universe winners were women with a purpose, and so am I,” she said.
Soni did her graduation from National Institute of Fashion Technology and started her own label of leather lingerie before venturing into blogging and styling. She would be representing India at the Miss International Queen 2021 competition to be held in May in Thailand and seeks to “bring home recognition for Indian transwomen.”