Solongo Batsukh is Mongolia’s transgender beauty queen who, despite online backlash, refuses to stay hidden.
Meet Solongo Batsukh
Batsukh wants to end the myth that trans women can only be sex workers or strippers. To do that, she became a celebrity in her own country. The beauty queen has partnered with a salon to promote their products and services via Facebook Live.
In October, Batsukh participated in Mongolia’s first-ever Miss Universe pageant. Though she didn’t win, she joined Spain’s Miss Universe Angela Ponce in shattering the stereotypes about what trans women can accomplish.
‘I wanted to inspire as many women as possible,’ Batsukh told South China Morning Post (SCMP). ‘But I’m still proud that I got the chance to compete in this contest.’
However, not everyone was happy about Batsukh’s participation in the pageant. She was met with a lot of online vitriol.
‘The world would have a negative image of our country if a man represents us while there are thousands of beautiful and real women in our country,’ one person wrote on the Facebook page for Miss Universe Mongolia.
LGBTI in Mongolia
According to a 2014 UN survey, over 80% of LGBTI Mongolians remain in the closet. Batsukh is one of the few who dares to live her truth out loud.
‘It is extremely difficult for transgender people to be employed,’ Baldangombo Altangerel, legal program manager at the LGBT Center of Mongolia, told SCMP.
Batsukh didn’t become aware of her gender identity until she was in her 20s. It came as she was learning about different sexual orientations in college. She began transitioning while working with Youth for Health, an NGO providing safe-sex education for LGBTI people.
‘I had to reveal myself [as transgender] so I could correct the misunderstandings in society. If we keep hidden, society will keep on hating us. They don’t know us,’ she says of her coming out.
Batsukh has used her public image to appear on television and social media, advocating for transgender rights. According to SCMP, she is currently in the process of creating a reality makeover show.
Mongolia criminalized anti-LGBTI hate crimes in 2017, and hosted its sixth Pride festival last August.