Becoming Miss Trans Pakistan turned Shyraa Roy's life around and she wants the same for her community
Miss Trans Pakistan Shyraa Roy is the first Pakistani woman chosen to represent the country in the world's biggest beauty pageant for transgender women, Miss International Queen, hosted in Thailand. Though she won't be able to attend due to financial constraints, she said being crowned Miss Trans Pakistan was a turning point in her life.
"Criminalised" by her own community, the model was threatened, scolded, scammed and tortured all because "there is a particular mafia that cannot see someone [achieve] any milestones." Roy said she had the chance to flee the country but stayed strong because of her "inner faith." She was alone, suffering from extreme hunger and poverty before her life did a 180. Crowned Miss Pakistan, which was "specially switched to Miss Trans Pakistan in 2021" to empower her gender, she proved her community wrong, gaining their appreciation.
Her community was not the only group adjusting to the model's professional milestone. Roy said everyone around her started taking her more seriously. "I still remember I used to run [after the] media and bloggers to talk about my singing skills and my music but they used to neglect it. After getting the crown, my life changed overnight."
Not only were her circumstances undergoing change, Miss Pakistan realised she is shouldering a big responsibility and needs to act accordingly. "I started getting more conscious about my projects — [now] I take time to opt [for] a song or script in order to take my responsibility more [seriously as] I am representing [the] youth and trans side of Pakistan."
Expanding on the personal changes she underwent, the model said she found the perfect balance of confidence. "I feel beautiful, I feel special and I get more respect. There was a time when we used to get eyed as if we were aliens but now we are beauty queens and I have [procured] the title for the first time in the history [of Pakistan] so I couldn't resist flaunting it and celebrating more."
When asked about government support, Roy laughed sarcastically in response. "I wish. There was a time when I was boycotted by my family — I did not even have enough money to drink water. I was homeless and looking for shelter. I went to tonnes of NGOS and so-called trans organisations and they straight away told me 'Sorry we cannot help you'." The model does not believe in any legitimate organisations in Pakistan and has not gotten any governmental support so far.
The 'Kamli' singer said her favourite part about pageants is getting prepped for makeovers and trying different looks. "You have to [appear] classy and well organised [with your choice of] words and body language. I enjoy all [these] kinds of things."
Roy expressed disappointment over the fact that they don't always get a "personal grooming person". However, she is very grateful for her manager and president of Pakistan Beauty Pageant — Sonia Ahmed — who is available on the phone 24/7. "Miss Sonia Ahmed [teaches] us A to Z of all practical things which we usually [go about] by following her command since she is the manager and president of Pakistan Beauty Pageant."
She said Ahmed helps the models in a lot of ways, like guiding them in promoting Pakistani culture on international grounds. "Recently our girl Areej went for Miss Eco International with Miss Sonia's help and hard work. She arranges all of our international pageant entries in terms of travel and stay but since they have certain limitations, we have to pay fees ourselves [with] personal sponsors or our pockets due to [lack of] governmental support for Pakistani pageants."
To aspiring transgender models Roy said, "Don't hesitate to speak [up for] your rights and very importantly, study. I have visited different universities, principals and VCs [vice chancellors] to [ask them to] offer trans people some percentage of scholarship so they can come and [acquire an] education, just like any other human being but I always used to hear 'We will get back to you'." She said she does not want to see her community members begging on roads. The place to start, according to her, is for them to leave mafias, unite and get an education.
Miss Trans Pakistan was well on her way to participate in the Miss International Queen pageant this year but her journey was cut short before it even began after her sponsor dropped out. "Unfortunately it's sad to share that the sponsor [who] committed to pay MIQ from Pakistan has backed out and now I am trying from my pocket to pay for it but I'm afraid I won't be able to proceed with the fees."
The Raat singer tried to get help but to no avail. "We tried to approach a lot of organisations and sponsors but we are not getting any help. So with a heavy heart and almost shattered dream, I believe I won't be able to participate in MIQ 22 due to the financial crisis and no support," she said.
"This was the first time Pakistan was going for MIQ and I really want to represent Pakistan but I am afraid [I won't be able to] participate because April 25 is the last date [to submit] 25,000 Thai Baht [which is around Rs138,000]." Roy said Miss International Queen was excited to feature Pakistan for the first time this year but they cannot change their policy so they have to get the fee in order for her participate.