Oded Balilty
Oded Balilty

Contenders in Israel’s first transgender pageant polished their moves and competed in “Miss Trans Israel.” Talleen Abu Hanna, 21, an Israeli from a Catholic Arab family, was crowned the winner of the 2016 pageant held at HaBima, Israel’s national theater, in Tel Aviv. The 12 finalists spent long hours practicing their routines, strutting in stiletto heels and modeling evening gowns and swim wear.

The competition is more than a show of beauty and pride. It also is a display of coexistence and tolerance, bringing together contestants from Israel’s Jewish, Muslim and Christian communities. The contestants describe themselves as a family of sorts, saying they find strength in one another.

Israel is generally tolerant of gays, and Tel Aviv has emerged as one of the world’s most gay-friendly travel destinations. The Israeli city stands in sharp contrast to most of the rest of the Middle East, where gays are persecuted or even killed in some places. Gay and transgender soldiers openly serve in Israel’s military, and in 1998, a transgender singer, Dana International, won the popular Eurovision song contest. But homosexuality is often shunned in religiously observant Jewish and Muslim communities. Last year, an extremist ultra-Orthodox Jew stabbed a teenage girl to death at a Jerusalem Pride parade.

Artist Bios

  • Oded Balilty

    Oded Balilty is a Pulitzer Prize-winning Israeli photographer born and raised in Jerusalem. He began his career as a photographer for the Israeli army magazine Bamahane. In 2002, he joined the Associated Press and in 2007, he won the Pulitzer Prize for his photograph of a lone Jewish settler confronting Israeli security officers during the evacuation of a West Bank settlement outpost. He is the first and only Israeli photographer to receive the Pulitzer Prize. From 2007-2008, he was based in Beijing. Balilty lives in Tel Aviv and photographs current events and documentary features in Israel, the Palestinian Territories, and around the world. Besides his photojournalism, his fine art photography is exhibited in galleries throughout Europe and Israel.


  • Shutterstock


    Shutterstock, Inc. is a leading global provider of high-quality licensed photographs, vectors, illustrations,videos and music to businesses, marketing agencies and media organizations around the world. Working with its growing community of over 140,000 contributors, Shutterstock adds hundreds of thousands of images each week, and currently has more than 90 million images and more than 5 million video clips available.

  • The Associated Press (AP)

    The Associated Press (AP)

    The Associated Press is the definitive global news network, delivering fast, unbiased news from all over the world in all media formats. Founded in 1846, AP is the most trusted source of independent news and information. AP’s timely, powerful and informative images cover topics from breaking news and sports to business, entertainment, fashion, travel and more. On any given day, more than half the world’s population sees news from AP.

Miss Trans Israel

 archive : 2016

Featuring: Oded Balilty

Curated by: Natalie Castaneda

Presented by: Shutterstock, The Associated Press (AP)
  • Shutterstock
  • The Associated Press (AP)


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