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'Everything I do as a dark-skinned, transwoman is a statement': Lehlogonolo Machaba

08 July 2021 - 07:45 By cebelihle bhengu
Lehlogonolo Machaba is a transgender Miss SA entrant.
Lehlogonolo Machaba is a transgender Miss SA entrant.
Image: Supplied

Lehlogonolo Machaba, a 24-year old transgender woman from the North West, had many reasons not to enter the Miss SA competition but the odds fuelled her need to represent her community and make a statement on one of the country's most prominent stages.

South Africans were introduced to her on Tuesday after Miss SA announced the 30 contestants who will compete for the coveted title. Her goal? To give hope and inspire fearlessness. 

“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.

“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. 

The Miss SA competition has been open to transgender women since 2019. 

The organisation told TimesLIVE on Wednesday that Machaba is the first openly transgender woman to make the top 30. There is no requirement from Miss SA for women to disclose if they are transgender. 

Machaba trumped other North West hopefuls to become the only woman representing the province in the competition. 

“Being born and bred in Bokone Bophirima and now representing it will always bring a smile to my face. I love the North West and hope to make them proud on this journey,” she said.

Asked what made Machaba stand out, Miss SA said “the most important criteria when selecting the top 30 was that the entrants were authentic and true to themselves.”

Should she win Miss SA, she will use her platform to advocate for the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community.

“Having recently lost a very close friend from a tragic incident that is believed to be a homophobic attack, it makes me fight even harder to get the Hate Crimes Bill passed,” said Machaba.