Thirty-three year old Shaine Soni is a fashion designer, a style and image consultant, and India's Miss Trans Queen 2020.
As Miss Trans Queen, Shaine will represent India at the Miss International Queen pageant next year, which will take place in Thailand.
From dressing up her dolls as a kid to getting ready to compete in an international event, it has been quite a journey for Shaine.
Shaine, who runs her own fashion studio in Delhi, was born biologically male. Consequently, as she grew up, while her mother believed her to be gay, her family, friends, and relatives constantly bullied and badgered her for developing 'effeminate' mannerisms, preferring clothing considered to be feminine, and keeping long hair, etc.
It wasn't until she was a teenager that she finally found relevant information on gender identity and at 17, left her home to pursue an education in fashion and live her life on her own terms.
A graduate from NIFT, Shaine used hormonal therapy for her physical transition. At the time, despite the lack of support from even her friends, Shaine continued on her journey. In her last year at NIFT, she won a reality show and landed an internship with the Hong-Kong based trend forecasting company, WGSN.
After completing her internship, she returned to India to start her own label, Nude. Apart from opening a studio in Shahpur Jat, Delhi she also took on the role of a fashion and celebrity stylist.
It was during her journey as a stylist that she met Reena Rai, the organizer of Miss Trans Queen India. 2020. While she helped direct the show from the sidelines, it took a pandemic and Ria's nudge to push Shaine to take the centre stage.
Because Ria could not hold a proper pageant during a pandemic, she wanted to be completely sure of the person she selects to represent India and the LGBTQ+ community, and Shaine was an obvious choice.
My pageant isn't just about beauty, it is about empowerment and inclusion. If I am going to send someone without holding a competition, then I have to make sure that they are a very strong candidate, the best of the best, someone who knows the value of (becoming Miss) Transqueen India. She (Shaine) has always been a very strong backbone for Transqueen India. I told her that because you've been with us and how important it is, and because you have been struggling with publicly coming out, this might be the best platform to do so because it is something that a lot of people will draw strength and inspiration from
- Ria to CNN
For Shaine too, this was the push she needed to finally share her true identity with her family, while also become a source of comfort and inspiration for other members of the LGBTQ+ community.
When Reena approached me for Miss Transqueen India for the first season in 2017, I was always there to support her but I wasn't comfortable coming out at that time because of family pressure. (But now) I am in a place where I can accept this title because I have gone through so much and know how difficult it is to be where I am today. If someone reads about me and finds comfort, I think my purpose is absolutely met.
- Soni to News18
Shaine, who has been advocating for Trans rights and the LGBTQ+ community for years now, looks to her win as a way of becoming a voice for those who have remained unheard and unexpressed for years. This is the fourth year that the Trans Queen pageant took place in India, and it's yet another step forward in making our society more inclusive.