A 24-year-old woman from Letlhabile in Brits is the first transgender woman to enter the Miss South Africa competition.
Lehlogonolo Machaba, a model and fashion designer, with a diploma in fashion design technology from Tshwane University of Technology, is also the owner of the DeMollies fashion brand.
“I’m so grateful to the Miss South Africa contest for this amazing opportunity. Right now all we need is to continue voting and hope for the best,” she said on Instagram.
Lehlogonolo says she will use the Miss South Africa platform to give voice to the LGBT (Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community.
“The daily murders of queer and trans-identifying people in our country and world is devastating. Through the Miss South Africa platform, I’d be able to advocate for the LGBTQIA community and, more especifically, queer-identifying women. I would use this opportunity to empower every marginalised person and become a beacon of hope for young girls out there regardless of whatever they think hinders them from attaining whatever goal they have. With patience, perseverance and hard work, they can attain anything they put their minds to.”
Lehlogonolo said she has received overwhelming support from people as well as local and international media. “Of course I have received hate messages as well, but I will use this platform to educate people and tell them ‘we are here. Stop killing us and accept us’. It is time we start educating each other.” She said this is encouraging her to go even further in the competition. “It doesn’t matter what they say, I am here to make a change.”
She said all women should be represented on this platform and it would, for instance, be great to see a plus-size woman become Miss South Africa. “It has been a dream to represent my community at such a high level.”
She extends her gratitude to everyone who’s been supporting her. “These don’t go unheard. Kealeboga.” She also thanked her family and friends for standing by her through this time. “I am humbled to be the first transgender woman to make it to the voting stages of the competition.
“The journey has just started and we should continue pushing through till the end and I urge all of you to go out and vote, share, like and get the word out there,” she said on Facebook.