Transgender history has been made in New Zealand this week...
In a massive victory for the already-progressive country, a transgender woman has been crowned as 2020's Miss New Zealand.
Twenty-six-year-old Arielle Keil, who was born in the Philippines but raised in Auckland, was rejected by her family when she came out as transgender.
However, she continued whole-heartedly with her transition...
And, this week, she received a title most women can only dream of.
Now, the LGBTQ+ community is bigger than ever before.
More and more people are now comfortable coming out as their authentic selves in today's day in age, including those with gender dysphoria.
It is more commonly known as being "transgender."
Transgender people often realize that they have gender dysphoria from a very young age, meaning there are lots of children out there feeling confused and, in some cases, neglected.
It is a heartbreaking reality that many trans people face rejection from their families.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, studies have shown that familial rejection can lead to the LGBTQ+ youth engaging in behaviors and activities that endanger their health, trigger depression, and other mental health issues, and, in some extreme cases, can lead to homelessness and suicide.
Family support is one of the most important things for a child or person coming out as trans...
Child welfare expert, Caitlin Ryan, stated that "family acceptance predicts greater self-esteem, social support, and general health status," for LGBTQ+ youth."It also protects against depression, substance abuse, and suicidal ideation and behaviors - issues for which transgender youth are at disproportionate risk."
Of course, coming out as transgender and beginning the transition is never easy...
Enduring taunting from peers and colleagues who are too naive to understand the situation is a sad reality for trans people.
That is why it is so important that these people have as much support as they can...
A solid family and friend dynamic and undying support is of the utmost importance.
But there are still some instances of transgender people going out into the big world alone...
And this brings us back to the story of Arielle Keil.
Now, Ariel hasn't had the easiest start to life.
She was raised by the church to believe she would rot in hell for wanting to be a woman and, as a result, battled severe bouts of depression and even contemplated taking her own life when growing up.
However, despite her family's strong beliefs against the idea of transitioning...
At the age of seventeen, Arielle began her journey to becoming a woman.
But, when her parents found out she was undergoing hormone treatment, they gave her two choices:
Stop or leave home.
Arielle ultimately decided to follow her heart.
That night she packed everything she owned into a bag and walked out, not knowing what would become of her. She explained:
"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 couldn't live a lie any longer.
"I'd already spent the formative years of my life as the wrong gender, I didn't want to waste my twenties in the wrong body either."
As a result of the long waiting lists in New Zealand, Arielle ended up going to Thailand for her "top-to-bottom" surgery earlier this year...
And, ever since, she has been living her life unapologetically, and now says she's happy, not scared, and here to stay as a woman.
But lately, she has achieved something incredible.
While studying for a fashion design bachelor's degree, Arielle entered the Miss New Zealand beauty pageant.
And guess what?
Yep, Arielle was given the coveted title of Miss Intercontinental New Zealand 2020.
She is the first post-operative transgender contestant to compete in the Miss New Zealand beauty pageant, but describes the concept as not being outdated but "actually bada*s."
Arielle had an "amazing" experience competing in the pageant.
Speaking to Metro.co.uk, Arielle said:
"The pageant was an amazing experience! It's something I've wanted to do for the longest time so to actually live out my dream has been amazing!"
For more on heartwarming stories of transgender acceptance, keep scrolling...