In 2016, 32-year-old Nepalese model Anjali Lama auditioned to walk during Mumbai's Lakme Fashion Week, but didn't make the cut. This year, not only was Lama cast for the top Indian production, but she will make history as the first transgender model to appear on Lakme's catwalk, with shows running from February 1 to 5.
"It wasn't easy for me in the early days when there was so much rejection and discrimination," Lama told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. "Now I am getting an overwhelming response from the fashion industry after being selected, and other transgender people tell me they are proud of me."
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Lakme Fashion Week, which aims to "redefine the future of fashion," cast a more inclusive modeling pool this season, according to Jaspreet Chandok, fashion head at IMG Reliance (an organizer of the event). In addition to Lama, Chandok said they've recruited a non-binary and plus size model in order to bring these conversations to "the national consciousness."
Lama's family cut ties with her long ago when someone in her village discovered she was transgender, though Nepal has made significant progress since. In 2007, the country's Supreme Court ruled that citizens could legally select their own gender identity and began issuing passports with a third gender category in 2015.