Aizya Naaz Joshi is India’s first transgender model and an international beauty queen. She is the only woman in India who is a transgender rights activist and a motivational speaker who holds 7 international crowns.
Joshi was born on December 31, 1984, in New Delhi, India. She was born into a multicultural family; her mother was Muslim, while her father was Hindu. She also has a twin brother and a younger brother. All her relatives told her parents to send her to the transgender community, also known as the “hijra” community, because of her feminine behavior. However, her parents refused since they wanted her to study. They did not want her to stay with them because they did not want to bear the taunts from their community. Thus, at the age of 7, Joshi was sent to live with her uncle in Mumbai.
Joshi experienced depression from listening to awful comments from people. Around the same time, she met Deepika Sharma, who is transgender, and told her about gender-affirming surgeries. To earn money for the surgery, Joshi worked as a sex worker. She earned enough money and underwent surgery in 2013. Following this, she started her modeling career.
Naaz worked at bars, cleaned tables, and washed utensils at restaurants to earn money. From a young age, she studied fashion design at the Pearl Academy of Fashion. When she was 18, she met her cousin, Viveka Babajee, who was a famous Mauritian model. With Viveka’s help and support, she got into the National Institute of Fashion Technology, where she completed her postgraduate studies in design and fashion. Later, Joshi completed her MBA in marketing from the Institute of Management Technology, Ghaziabad. During her studies, she worked with Ritu Kumar and Ritu Beri, two famous designers from India.
In 2015, Joshi received her first major break on the cover of Tehelka magazine. Then, she won the ‘Miss World Diversity’ contest three times in a row. However, the media did not give her a lot of attention, due to her being transgender. Despite this, she continued to win titles as Miss Transqueen India, Miss Republic International Beauty Ambassador, Miss United Nations Ambassador, and Miss Universe Diversity. In 2021, she won the Empress Earth Pageant in its first virtual edition of the Global Pageant Awards.
Recently, Joshi has been working on many gender sensitization programs and interacting with various educational institutes to empower the transgender community in India. Some of these educational institutes include Sri Venkateswara College, Tagore International School, and IIM Udaipur. In addition, she is the brand ambassador for Triton Solutions, an IT company, and a goodwill ambassador for AGS, a grooming Academy. She has also been working closely with Dr. Nitin Shakya to mainstream representation of the transgender community in India.
As a transgender activist, Joshi wishes to educate the transgender community and remove anything that degrades its dignity. She has continuously worked to increase employment opportunities for her community's residents because of the lack of equal employment opportunities transgender people experience. Ultimately, Joshi strongly believes in advocating and speaking up for the transgender community.
Even after all of her achievements, Joshi has not been given enough attention by the media. Additionally, her family has still not accepted her; her father strongly believes that she has brought shame to her family as well as society, and he has even asked her to not use his last name.
"My story is not just my story and this story should reach all the parents of the LGBT community so that before they throw their kids out because of society, they can also feel that their kids can make them proud too,” says Joshi.
I chose to research Naaz Joshi because she has not been given the attention she deserves, and she is a huge inspiration and role model for the LGBTQIA+ community. I want more people to know about her and get inspired through her story.
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This article was published on 2/7/24