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Beyond glitz and glamour, Lebanese transgender model breaks taboos

Beyond glitz and glamour, Lebanese transgender model breaks taboos

by Heba Kanso

In a central Beirut cafe, transgender model Sasha Elijah flips open a paper fan and whips out her new ice cream cone-shaped high-heeled shoes for a potential drag costume.

It is a deliberately provocative display of femininity from Sasha, who is on a mission to challenge the stigma and taboo of being transgender in the Middle East through her modelling, drag shows and social media.

The 21-year-old's costumes are as colourful and complex as the journey that led to her coming out as Sasha in Lebanon, a seemingly progressive society that she says remains deeply rooted in religious and political conservatism.

"I created Sasha so I can face society ... I had to elevate myself, not just the physical self, but with my mindset," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in the capital Beirut.

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