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Meet the woman aiming to be first transgender Miss New Zealand winner

The next Miss New Zealand winner could be a beautiful 26-year-old woman who was born a boy named Andrew.

Arielle Keil will make history next month in Auckland as the first post-operative transgender contestant in the pageant, but the glamorous trailblazer is hoping to go one step further and be crowned the winner.

But while the concept of beauty pageants may seem a little outdated in 2020, Arielle says they’re ‘actually badass’. 

Arielle Keil (pictured) is a 26-year-old transgender model aiming to be crowned Miss New Zealand

Arielle Keil (pictured) is a 26-year-old transgender model aiming to be crowned Miss New Zealand

Arielle Keil (pictured) will make history next month as the first transgender contestant in the Miss New Zealand beauty pageant

But the glamorous trailblazer is hoping to go one step further and be crowned the winner

Arielle Keil (pictured) will make history next month as the first transgender contestant in the Miss New Zealand pageant, but the glamorous trailblazer is hoping to go one step further and be crowned the winner.

‘People think it’s world peace and fake smiles but the women who compete are beautiful on the inside. They’re out doing stuff in their communities. They’re educated. For me, they’re like badass and I always wanted to be like that,’ she told the NZ Herald.

Born in the Philippines and emigrating as a toddler, Arielle said Filipinos see beauty pageants the same way Kiwis view rugby.  

But being raised in a traditional southeast Asian family meant it wasn’t always easy for the young model. 

Her family were not supportive of her transition and she has not spoken to her mother in over three years.   

When her parents found out she was undergoing hormone treatment, they gave Arielle two choices – stop or leave home.

That night she packed everything she owned into a black rubbish bag and walked out, not knowing what would become of her. 

The next Miss New Zealand winner could be a beautiful 26-year-old woman that was born as a boy named Andrew (pictured)

The next Miss New Zealand winner could be a beautiful 26-year-old woman that was born as a boy named Andrew (pictured) 

Born in the Philippines and emigrating as a toddler, Arielle (pictured) said Filipinos see beauty pageants the same way Kiwis view rugby

Born in the Philippines and emigrating as a toddler, Arielle (pictured) said Filipinos see beauty pageants the same way Kiwis view rugby

‘My life turned upside down when I transitioned … but I would rather go through hell as a woman than have an easy life as a man. Whatever the universe wants to throw at me – do it.’

She has battled severe bouts of depression and contemplated taking her own life.

Arielle was raised by the church to believe she would rot in hell for wanting to be a woman. 

But despite the hardship, she chose to live life unapologetically and now she says she’s happy, not scared, and here to stay as a woman.  

Although New Zealand’s health system does allow for publicly funded gender-affirming surgery in some cases, the process to gain approval is arduous and the waiting list is long. 

So Arielle elected to go to Thailand and pay paid $15,000 for the ‘top to bottom’ procedure that involved breast implants and a vaginoplasty.

Arielle (pictured) elected to go to Thailand and pay paid $15,000 for the 'top to bottom' procedure that involved breast implants and a vaginoplasty

Arielle (pictured) elected to go to Thailand and pay paid $15,000 for the ‘top to bottom’ procedure that involved breast implants and a vaginoplasty

'My life turned upside down when I transitioned ... but I would rather go through hell as a woman than have an easy life as a man' Arielle said

‘My life turned upside down when I transitioned … but I would rather go through hell as a woman than have an easy life as a man’ Arielle said

If Arielle were to be crowned Miss New Zealand, it would not be unprecedented when it comes to pageants around the globe 

√Āngela Maria Ponce Camacho became the first transgender woman to compete in the Miss Universe contest after claiming the title of Miss Spain in 2018.

Before that, one of Arielle’s hero’s Jenna Talackova, won a lengthy legal battle in 2012 which allowed her to compete in the Miss Canada pageant. 

Recently New Zealand has introduced a number of controversial new curriculum guidelines which enables school children to choose their own gender and pronounces. 

Although the initiative has copped some backlash, Arielle says it’s not something anyone should worry about. 

‘They’re not asking you to transition with them, it won’t change your daily life. You won’t lose anything by being kind, loving and supportive,’ she said.

Arielle (pictured with a shirtless man) was raised by the church to believe she would rot in hell for wanting to be a woman

Arielle (pictured with a shirtless man) was raised by the church to believe she would rot in hell for wanting to be a woman

Arielle is urging others to respect other like her. 'They're not asking you to transition with them, it won't change your daily life. You won't lose anything by being kind, loving and supportive,' she said

Arielle is urging others to respect other like her. ‘They’re not asking you to transition with them, it won’t change your daily life. You won’t lose anything by being kind, loving and supportive,’ she said

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