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Meet the first transgender, Filipina woman to compete in New Zealand beauty pageant: ‘Representation is vital’

Emerald Pellot
·2-min read

Arielle Keil is a 26-year-old creative advertising student and who was crowned Miss Intercontinental New Zealand 2020 in early November.

Keil, who is of Filipina-German heritage, is the first transgender woman and first Filipina to represent the country in the beauty pageant. She was born in Davao City in the Philippines and spent most of her life in Auckland. But her journey has not always been easy.

When Keil first began transitioning in 2017, her family disowned her and kicked her out.

“I’d already spent the formative years of my life as the wrong gender, I didn’t want to waste my twenties in the wrong body either,” Keil told The Guardian. “This way of thinking really helped me come out to my parents because I knew that whatever their reaction was, this was something I needed to do for myself.”

However, after the difficult rough patch, her relationship with her father has improved.

“Finding my feet as an adult after getting kicked out of home and becoming fully independent has earned the respect of my father,” Keil told Bored Panda. “I showed him that this isn’t a phase and that I am serious about my transition and this dream of being a titleholder in the world of pageantry. I feel like now I am just myself fully and with my dad now seeing me and treating me as his daughter our parent/child relationship is so much healthier and makes sense.”

Keil is delighted to be a pioneer in New Zealand’s LGBTQIA+ community.

“To any queer person wanting to do beauty pageants, I would tell them to continue to be themselves unapologetically,” Keil told GMA. “Their entry is already doing so much for our community. Representation is vital especially during these times of uncertainty.”

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