Dani St James might not have been born a girl, but she still dreams of becoming a beauty queen. The 21-year-old transgender woman is competing to be crowned Miss Diamond Queen 2013.
Just three years ago, Dani went by the name Daniel. At 18, she decided to leave her life as a man and live as a woman. However, unlike many transgender people, Dani never struggled with her identity. Her mother never forced her to identify with one gender and encouraged her to do whatever made her happy.
"Becoming a woman has never been an issue as my family have always been extremely supportive," Dani said. "I never had any drama surrounding my gender, I was accepted for who I was and I never felt as though I was trapped because I was always free to dress and act as I pleased."
Dani admitted that her transition was a gradual process. She grew up playing with girls' toys and began wearing makeup when she was 11. When she turned 12, Dani got her first boyfriend and told her parents that she was gay.
The 21-year-old said that competing in the beauty pageant is an opportunity to inspire others. She hopes it will encourage other transgender people to feel comfortable in their own skin and live how they want to.
"Taking part in the beauty pageant is a big deal, I want to help others and inspire them to have the courage to live as they want to," she said.
Dani is not the only transgender woman who participated in a beauty pageant. Last year, Jenna Talackova placed in the top 12 at the Miss Universe Canada pageant. She was originally disqualified from the competition because she was born male.
“I didn’t know that there would be this much controversy. I was just entering because, you know, I wanted to represent Canada. I think I’m a beautiful woman, inside and out, and I think I would have done the job,” Jenna said.
Do you think Dani should be able to compete in a beauty pageant?
[Image via New York Daily News]