Abandoned at 7, raped at 11, India's three-time Miss Diversity, Naaz Joshi, shares the gut wrenching plight of the country's trans community

Naaz Joshi (R) world first transsexual who won Miss World Diversity 2018 contest fighting with women in Dubai interacts with Navya Singh (L) brand ambassador of Miss transqueen India during Hizra Habba 2018 in Delhi
  • In an interview with Business Insider India, Naaz Joshi, revealed her journey of becoming three-time Miss Diversity 2018 in India.
  • She was abandoned at the age of 7 and gang raped at the age of 11.
  • Despite all these odds, Naaz sponsored her own education and studied fashion design at the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) however found it difficult to land a job at design houses.
  • She went under sex reassignment surgeries in 2013 and started her career in modelling.
  • Her next endeavour is to push for legal marriages for the LGBTQIA+ community.

Aizya Naaz Joshi created history when won the Miss Diversity 2019 pageant for this third time, at Port Louis in Mauritius.

She is also the first Indian trans-woman to appear on the cover of a national magazine. Even after many successes, Joshi is yet to win the hearts of her own family.


"My father still is not accepting me. He strongly believes that I have brought shame to the society and the family. He asked me not to use his last name," Naaz told Business Insider India.

‘I had no idea what rape even meant.’

Naaz was born a transgender to a multicultural family. Her mother is a Muslim while her father is a Hindu. In spite of having a twin brother and another younger brother, and she was always the odd one out.

"When I grew up a little,all the relative told my parents to send me to the trans ( hijra) community. But they declined it and wanted me to study,” she says. Yet, they did not want Naaz to stay with them either, so they sent her away to an uncle in Mumbai.

The hardworking youngster took up a job at a restaurant where she washed utensils and cleaned tables. All was well until a male cousin raped her when she was 11 years old.

"The sad part was that I had no idea what rape even meant. I got to know much later. All I remember is that I was brutally injured.” By the time she realised, it was too late to find a legal battle as evidence was lost with time.

The government is fighting an uphill battle to reduce abuse against women, but sexual violence against transgenders is all but ignored. One of the grave indiscrepancies is with punishment. While those who abuse women could be jailed for seven years or more, in the case of transgenders it is defined as physical abuse and punishments range from 6 months to two years.

Education failed to become the passport to future

Naaz had hoped that education will sort her life. At the age of 12, she started working at a dance bar in Mumbai to support her education, when they were still legal.

“I had to pretend to be a 16 year old girl to get work,”

Naaz Joshi

She had encountered other trans women who danced at the bar.

Despite all these odds, Naaz sponsored her own education and studied fashion designing at the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT). She later completed her MBA in marketing from IMT Ghaziabad.

"Despite working for big labels like Ritu Kumar and Ritu Beri, I found it hard to get a job," she says. She even pursued a diploma to become an air hostess.

Even with a stellar resume and being a NIFT topper, she was forced to take up a job at a massage parlour in South Delhi. “As soon as they get to know about my gender, they used to ignore me,” she laments. As many as 89% of qualified transgenders in India do not find employment in India.

The gender pay gap is worse with transgender women .

Naaz underwent a gender reassignment surgery in 2013, and started modeling.

Naaz Joshi at Roshni Nilaya in Mangaluru


My life changed when I appeared on the cover of Tehelka Magazine, the title of which read: "How people like Naaz Joshi are turning the way we see men and women”. In 2017, she was floating on cloud nine when she became won Miss Diversity.

Even when they are hired, transgenders face the problem that most women do, a blaring pay gap. And for transgenders, the pay difference is as deep as 191%.

In her chosen field however, women make more money. "If companies pay ₹35,000 to a female model for a ramp walk or shoot, then it is likely that a trans woman with experience will get only ₹12,000," she informs.

A fresher usually earns ₹5,000 for a shoot and if you are a woman with experience in the fashion industry it can go up to ₹35,000 but a trans women with years of experience still earns merely ₹12000. While, the pay hike is 600% for a women, the pay is generally only 140% more for a trans women.

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Miss world diversity 2019

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The treatment that she receives isn’t great either. "The companies pay us little, they behave like they are doing us a favour by featuring us," she says. Naaz wishes that people would treat her like any other women.

The Miss Diversity also doubles as a social activist to raise awareness about HIV among women and children. She plans to visit villages near Delhi on September 6 to create awareness on Section 377 and the importance of a socially inclusive society.

Her next endeavour is to push for legal marriages for the LGBTQIA+ community.

See also:
India's first trans beauty pageant winner's journey from hunger and abandonment to a symbol of empowerment