The pageant, held at Tiffany’s nightclub in Pattaya City in Thailand, was originally scheduled for November, but it was postponed until March to allow the country to mourn the country’s king, who died in October. The contest is in its 12th year, and in order to compete, contestants must be between the ages of 18 and 35 and born male — although they’re not required to have undergone gender reassignment surgery. The event includes eveningwear and swimsuit competitions, and the winner receives a tiara, flowers, a cash prize, and a car.
Sirimongkolnawin, 25, a former fine-arts student-turned-fashion-designer, beat 24 other contestants for the crown, including Brazil’s Nathalie Oliveira, who came in second place, and Venezuela’s Andrea Collazo, who finished third, according to the Daily Mail.
“It’s like a new category,” Jiratchaya, who wore a white strapless gown with black trim and sparkly hoop earrings, told Reuters of the pageant for the “third gender.” “But the gender already existed a long time ago.”
“Many of the contestants have had trouble being accepted by their families,” Alisa Phanthusak, chair of Miss International Queen’s pageant committee, told CNN on Thursday. “So we’re trying to bring up their self-esteem. It’s not just beauty we are looking for. It’s confidence.”
Despite being known as the “gay capital of Asia,” Thailand isn’t exactly progressive when it comes to LGBT rights. According to a story published by the Huffington Post, boys between the ages of 11 and 18 are trained to “shed their girlishness” by Buddhist monks and banned from using makeup.
According to People, American entertainer Mimi Marks was crowned Miss International Queen in 2005.
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