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This Tibetan Monk-Turned Transgender Model from Bhikku is Now a Queer Social Media Icon

In 2014, a video of a monk dancing wearing a woman's wig and makeup went had gone viral and earned her insulting names and derogatory remarks. Almost five years later, she is a social media icon with over 20k followers on Instagram.

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Updated:February 4, 2019, 10:26 AM IST
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This Tibetan Monk-Turned Transgender Model from Bhikku is Now a Queer Social Media Icon
In 2014, a video of a monk dancing wearing a woman's wig and makeup went had gone viral and earned her insulting names and derogatory remarks. Almost five years later, she is a social media icon with over 20k followers on Instagram.
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In 2014, a video of a monk dancing wearing a woman's wig and makeup went had gone viral and earned her insulting names and derogatory remarks. Almost five years later, she is a social media icon with over 20k followers.

Tenzin Mariko, is a former Buddhist monk. Perhaps that is why, in 2019, she could leave her past of negativity behind.

In a 2017 interview to Buzzfeed, Mariko mentioned how she thought she would 'would be quickly booed offstage' after her decision to appear in public as a performer at the 2015 Miss Tibet pageant in Dharamsala. Her apprehension stemmed from the fact that she is the first openly transgender woman in the Tibetan community.

The video, which showed her dancing at a friend's wedding in New Delhi, had earned her insulting names like “Pholo-molo,” a derogatory Tibetan term for transgender that translates as “neither male nor female,” and reproachment from the community of Dharamshala, where she resided.

Shortly, following this video, she gave up monk hood and embraced her true identity - as a transgender model.

Mariko was born as Tenzin Ugen, in Bir, a village in Himachal Pradesh. At the age of 16, she had left the Tergar Institute in Kathmandu, Nepal, where she was sent for higher monastic studies, and returned to Dharamsala, to be with her parents.

In 2015, the beauty pageant put her back in public spolight - but this time - as 'herself' in skirts instead of robes.

Today, almost four years later, Mariko is a social media influencer and a queer icon, apart from being a professional dancer, model and a make-up artist.

She has over 20 thousand people following her Instagram account where she posts pictures of her embracing her true self and is nothing less than a queer icon on the platform.




She recently even spoke at a Tedx talk in Dharamshala.




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