Twitter exploded the second Olivia Jordan was crowned Miss USA. Her gown for the evening wear segment sparked controversy (aside from Donald Trump’s comments about Mexican immigrants during that same time). The dress polarized the Internet. Some loved it, while others hated it and thought she should not have won based on the dress. The dress was pink and strapless with a flowing skirt that had slanted lines of ruffles. In an interview with The Huffington Post Live, Jordan stated it was the dream dress of her five-year-old self.
A beauty queen’s dress is purely aesthetic and superficial. Her wardrobe choices are less important than who she is as an individual and what she represents. That ideology applies to Hailie Sahar, a pageant winner, whose story of triumph over adversity can be overlooked if the viewer only looks at the surface.
At In The Meantime’s pre-pride party, she dazzled the audience with her charm and hand placement-ography (choreography for a beauty queen’s hand). See her as the crowd saw her. First her dress, gray, and chic, paired smartly with an ornate gold necklace. Her sash for Miss L.A. Pride 2015 accentuated her figure. Then, her arms, bare and thin, then her flash of red hair. The spotlight caught her face at an angle that gave her the glow of a pregnant woman. She smiled, waiting for Karamo Brown to finish. They both were handpicked to be Brand Ambassadors for BrothaFest. Many of the people in the audience did not know (from only looking at her) that she was born in the wrong body and transitioned into her female body.
In a sit down interview, Sahar discussed the difficulty of being transgender, biracial, and young in L.A., being abused at a young age, and how she has overcome numerous obstacles to be a role model for girls like her.
What did it mean for you to be asked to be the Ambassador for BrothaFest?
It was touching to be asked to be an Ambassador for BrothaFest. I felt humbled. It meant that I was doing something good in life. It told me that I have a duty to be a role model as a transgender woman. Also, I saw it as a blessing.
Also, you were this year’s Miss L.A. Pride. Tell us about that experience.
It happened out of nowhere. One of the previous contestants called me the day before the pageant. I didn’t know too much about it. That experience was another blessing. Once I got there, I knew what it was working toward. And, being in the Parade was overwhelming. There were people crying and waving at me in the convertible that I was in. It furthered my belief that I had a duty to be a role model for others.
What were the components of the pageant?
There was a cocktail dress round, evening dress round, and Q&A round. The question that I was given was what was the most pivotal moment in your life as a trans person. I grew up being abused. Not too many people know that. I was also a preacher’s kid. Not too many people know that either. In that environment I was confused. I would go to church and a family member was abusing me. For me, to come out of that and be the person that I wanted to be in a religious and strict household that was my most pivotal moment. That’s why I want to tell my story. People might see me and say she’s beat or beautiful. But, no matter what I’ve been through or you’ve been through, you can still persevere and don’t let the situation mold you into a negative person.
What is it like to be transgender, young, and Black?
It is a lot of hard work. It takes discipline. As a minority and being biracial and transgender, you have to go through obstacles and then find your way in the world. As a trans person, it is often difficult trying to get people to understand who you are.
People don’t know what it means to be trans. They do not fully understand that your biological makeup can be different from your physical body. I have a doctor that I go to and l learned that there are studies looking at chromosomes when babies are born. Sometimes a child can be born in the male form, but the baby thinks in the female state. There are so many diversities of how people are born. People are visual. They trust that because you are born with a male body, you are male. But there is more to a person than their sexual parts. They are shallow-minded and see physical parts and identify that person as what they see.
Why did you come out as trans when you could pass as a biological woman?
I feel that it is a blessing to be passable. A lot of people don’t have that blessing to pass and be beautiful. I’m not saying that to be overly confident. When God gives you these gifts, you use them. I want to use my beauty and intelligence to uplift others and give back to people that do not blend into regular society. They will see someone like me and know that there are people like them that can be successful and achieve what they want in life. I’m Black and trans and am doing what I want to do. I like Laverne Cox and Janet Mock because they are going about it in a classy and elegant way. They are intellectuals and carry themselves well.
Who is the private Hailie?
I am a shy person and a workaholic. I have a hard time showing people my true self as I am. They might take me not opening up as being a diva, but that’s not the case. It takes a while for me to open up. Then you’ll see I’m a big kid. I love amusement parks and don’t take things too seriously.
Is the transgender community in L.A. connected or disconnected and how so?
In general, the transgender community is a bit disconnected. A lot of trans people are afraid because they do not know how they will be treated after they come out. They might be ridiculed. But I will say, this year there have been a lot of people in the public eye like Laverne Cox, Caitlyn Jenner, Isis King, and Janet Mock. People like me; we see more of it. I see it in the city and when I meet girls like myself, I see a spark in their eyes as we talk about the movement.
Do you have any trans mentors that have helped you during your transition?
I did not have a trans mentor to help me during my transition and do not now. In that sense, the trans community is detached. There is not a lot of help. I thank God that I have the mother that I have and my brother. My mother has helped me in my journey.
Last year, there was a huge scandal concerning “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and with the words “tranny” and “she-mail” being used. What are your thoughts on those words?
She-male is a pornographic term like cock or the p-word [or the female anatomy]. These words are used in a sexual environment. The word tranny is equivalent to the n-word. When someone says tranny, I hear the n-word. A lot of people are not educated. A lot of Black people aren’t educated [on the history of the n-word]. Also, a lot of trans people aren’t educated [on the history of the word tranny]. They go along with it and use it, not knowing that it means something sexual.
What would you like to leave our readers with?
I am following all my dreams. I am working on some acting projects, getting more into music, and doing more pageants. Follow my journey on Instagram at Hailiescommet and on Twitter at 213sahar.