The Miss South Africa beauty pageant organisers have announced the first transgender woman in the top 30 for the 2021 pageant.

Earlier this year, organisers said the competition will be open to transgender entrants on condition that they are in possession of a valid South African Identity Document, reflecting their amended sex as female.

Lehlogonolo Machaba, 24, from Oskraal, Letlhabile, in the North West Province says she is humbled to be the first transgender woman selected and hopes she paves a way to inspire others.

“More especially now representation counts, so me being part of it. I am just grateful that we have a representation of a trans woman and who happens to be Black. So in a way it will inspire a lot of young girls out there, who identify themselves as queer. So I best believe it will bring change to things that have been silenced in the past few years,” she says.

Machaba holds a diploma in fashion design technology from the Tshwane University of Technology and works as a model booker at Invade Models.

In her spare time, she volunteers at a local LGBTQIA centre, helping young people complete university and job applications.

Miss SA receive criticism for opening the competition to transgender entrants:

In February, a group of young women wrote to the Miss South Africa Pageantry, raising issues of diversity and inclusivity.

In an open letter, they acknowledged great strides made by the organisation in recent years, while calling for more changes to promote inclusivity.

Women raise issues of diversity, inclusivity in Miss SA pageant: