- Associated Press - Friday, May 27, 2016

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) - An Israeli from a Catholic Arab family has been crowned the winner of the country’s first transgender pageant.

Talleen Abu Hanna, 21, from the northern city of Nazareth wore a white bridal dress as she was declared the first “Miss Trans Israel” on Friday at HaBima, Israel’s national theater, in Tel Aviv.

She describes her victory as “historic” and says it promotes equality.

She will represent Israel at the Miss Trans Star International pageant in Spain in August.

Israel is generally tolerant of gay people, and Tel Aviv has emerged as one of the world’s most gay-friendly destinations.

The Israeli city stands in sharp contrast to many parts of the Middle East, where gay people are often persecuted. But homosexuality is commonly shunned in religiously observant Jewish and Muslim communities.

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