Makeup artist Solongo Batsukh braves Mongolia’s below-freezing temperatures in a skimpy black dress and light pastel pink coat — the nation’s trailblazing transgender beauty queen wants to look good in any weather.
“I don’t like to look puffy,” the 25-year-old said as she drove to a beauty salon that hired her to promote its products and services via Facebook Live.
It is with this typical bluntness, confidence and attitude that taboo-breaking Batsukh strutted into the nation’s first-ever Miss Universe Mongolia competition in October.
Although she fell short of representing her country at the Miss Universe contest in Thailand on Monday last week, her participation shed another light on a group living on the edges of a deeply patriarchal country with conservative views about sexual identity.
Had she won, she would have joined Miss Spain’s Angela Ponce as the first transgender contestants in Miss Universe’s 66-year history.
“I wanted to inspire as many women as possible, but I’m still proud that I got the chance to compete in this contest, and the ‘Solongo’ I created was a true winner in my heart,” Batsukh said.
Her participation did not please everyone, dredging up negative reactions on social media.
“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 of Miss Universe Mongolia.
However, Batsukh is not deterred by such abuse.
Born Bilguun Batsukh, she grew up as a boy in the semi-arid central province of Dundgovi.
She could not pinpoint her gender identity until she learned about different orientations as a university student in her early 20s.
It was when she started working as a program officer at Youth for Health, a non-governmental organization that provides safe-sex education for LGBT people, that she realized she was a woman born in a man’s body.
She started wearing wigs, putting on dresses and taking hormone therapy.
Batsukh is among the few LGBT people who have come out in Mongolia, where about 80 percent of the community remain in the closet, a UN survey showed.
“It is extremely difficult for transgender people to be employed,” LGBT Center legal program manager Baldangombo Altangerel said.
A video of a young transgender woman who had repeatedly been beaten in the streets went viral in Mongolia last year, highlighting the prejudices LGBT people face.
Batsukh wants to dispel the image that transgender women can only be sex workers or strippers living on the fringes of society.
She flaunts her wealth, regularly travels abroad and is a celebrity in her country of 3 million people.
Batsukh found fame in 2014, when she represented Mongolia in Miss International Queen, finishing in the top 10 of the international transgender beauty pageant in Thailand.
She pursued a modeling career and became a makeup artist.
“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 said.
FOX HUNT: To suppress dissent, Chinese living abroad that Xi Jinping sees as threats are told to either return to China or commit suicide, Christopher Wray said Chinese agents have been pursuing hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US in an effort to force their return, as part of a global campaign against the country’s diaspora, known as Operation Fox Hunt, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday. In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” Wray gave the example of one Fox Hunt target who was given a choice of going back to China or killing themselves. Fox Hunt was launched
INTERNET CURBS: People are rushing to erase their digital footprints after police given powers over online activity, although it might take years for the full effect to be felt At midnight on Tuesday, the Great Firewall of China, the vast apparatus that limits the country’s Internet, appeared to descend on Hong Kong. Unveiling expanded police powers as part of contentious new national security legislation, the Hong Kong government enabled police to censor online speech, and force Internet service providers to hand over user information and shut down platforms. Many residents, already anxious since the legislation took effect last week, rushed to erase their digital footprint of any signs of dissent or support for the past year of protests. Hong Kong Legislator Charles Mok (莫乃光), a pro-democracy member of the Legislative
‘FIGHT FOR FREEDOM’: Hong Kongers will never bow to Beijing, the advocate said, while the US’ envoy to the territory called China’s new security law a ‘tragedy’ The world must stand in solidarity with Hong Kongers after Beijing imposed sweeping national security legislation on the semi-autonomous territory, advocate Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) said yesterday, vowing to continue campaigning for democracy. Wong, one of the territory’s most prominent young advocates and a figure loathed by Beijing, was speaking outside a court where he and fellow advocates are being prosecuted for involvement in last year’s pro-democracy protests. China last week enacted sweeping security legislation for the restless territory, banning acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. The legislation has sent a wave of fear through the territory, and criminalized dissenting
‘SUICIDE’: Media reports said Park Won-soon went missing on Thursday after a staff member filed a sexual harassment claim against him this week Seoul mayor Park Won-soon, viewed as a potential candidate for the 2022 presidential election, was found dead of an apparent suicide hours after he was reported missing, police said, adding that he was the subject of an undisclosed investigation. In a note he is thought to have left behind on his desk, Park offered his apologies. “I thank everyone who was with me in my life. I apologize to my family for only making them suffer from pain,” according to the note that was released by his office yesterday. Park, in his letter, asked to be cremated and have his remains spread