Miss International Queen is the world's largest and most prestigious beauty pageant for transgender women from different parts of the world. It is held annually in Pattaya City, Thailand since 2004.
The mission of the pageant aims towards LGBT and Transgender awareness and equality in both society and workforce, while all the monetary profits of the actual televised show goes to the Royal Charity AIDS Foundation of Thailand.
The current Miss International Queen is Nguyen Huong Giang from Vietnam, who was crowned on 9 March 2018.
The Miss International Queen official website states that the beauty pageant was established with the intent to
"offer an international competition for transgender and transsexual from around the world, to provide an opportunity for transgender/transsexual to be more accepted in today's world, to create human rights awareness among international communities and to build friendship and exchange ideas among international lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender/transsexual communities."
The contestants must have been born male, can be pre or post-operation and between the age of 18 to 35. In addition, participants can only represent their country of birth or that listed in their passport and must not have previously joined any magazine publication/website/adult film/prostitution showcasing total frontal nudity. Previous winners or runner-up contestants are not allowed to join again. Repeat non-placement candidates are allowed to re-submit their credentials and application.
Only about 25 semi-final contestants chosen would go on to compete in the final round and are required to participate in 2 weeks activities: photo shoots, luncheons with city's officials, dinner with the press, visit sponsors and community outreach, similar conditions to competitors in the female beauty pageant. The final show will be aired on live broadcast Thailand's television as well as live online streaming.
Some of the pageant objectives are: creating transgender rights awareness among international communities, to build friendship, sportsmanship and exchange ideas between international LGBTQ communities.
Crown Design and Prize
In 2011, the crown for Miss International Queen Crown was re-designed by an inspiration of butterflies and the crown of Lady Liberty. The butterflies were intended to symbolize beauty found in nature and the idea of rebirth. The crown remains with the Miss International Queen Organization at an estimated value of $10,000 US dollars. The Miss International Queen winner receives THB 450,000 (about US$12,500), sponsor gifts, an apartment at Woodland Resort during her reign and memories that last a lifetime.
Miss International Queen® is a registered trademark and a non-profit sector of the organizer Tiffany's Show Pattaya Co., Ltd., world's largest transgender cabaret show since 1974 and sponsored by Tourism Authority of Thailand. All proceeds from the final show are donated to Thailand's Royal AIDS Foundation.
Transgender Inclusion in Pageants
According to recent studies, transgender and transsexual individuals are often the victims of social and political discrimination. The Miss International Queen pageant offers contestants the opportunity to compete and showcase their talent and beauty in a LGBT friendly environment.
Transgender Pageant Cases
Recent events have drawn attention to the treatment of transgender pageant contestants and how their personal identification impacts their eligibility. There have been instances where transgender and transsexual pageant winners have lost their title for not being “transgender enough”. On the other hand, certain participants have also been disqualified from cisgender female pageants for not being “naturally born female”. In 2012, Jenna Talackova who participated in Miss International Queen in 2010 was disqualified from the Miss Universe Canada on the basis of competing as a woman when she was originally born a male. Supporters of Talackova argues that there were no rules explicitly banning transsexuals from competing. Talackova joined in the 2010 Miss International Queen competition. This instance sparked a debate as to how Talackova’s personal gender identification affected her eligibility to compete in both competitions. Talackova argued that if she was transgender, she could participate in transgender pageants. At the same time, if she identified as a woman, she would have had the right to participate fairly in the Miss Universe Canada competition. Jenna Talackova’s case is one that brings awareness to the public perception and personal opinions pertaining to transgenders competing in pageants.
A similar case occurred later in 2016 when the winner of the Miss Transgender UK, Jai Dara Latto, was stripped of her title after pageant organizers claimed she was not living “full time” as a woman. This was after footage was uncovered of Latto walking around in boxers rather than female undergarments. Latto was pegged as a “drag queen” rather than a transgender woman and proceeded to forfeit her pageant title and earnings. Latto pledged to walk thirty miles in high heels in honor of transgender rights after the allegations.
Both Talackova and Latto’s cases raises the question as to who is eligible to win a cisgender pageant and also what qualifications or standards must be met in order for a transgender pageant winner to retain their title. Participants are eligible to compete and win the title of Miss International Queen if they were born male and there sexual or gender identification is that of a female. These recent events have sparked a debate involving the social inclusion and equality that is associated with an individual’s sexual and gender identification.
Public Perception of Transgender Beauty Pageants
General attitudes towards pageants like Miss International Queen vary among members of the population. Studies have suggested that some people are in favor of transgender inclusion in beauty pageants, while others argue that it is only fair that they compete in pageants that are exclusively for transgender contestants. Although the premise of pageants has varying opinions as well, competitions like Miss International Queen offer a similar opportunity to transgender women that individuals who were born female and identify as one have. Recent publications and studies claim that beauty pageants have negative impacts, while other sources suggest that pageants portray the intersectionality and dynamics of gender politics, sexual orientation, and cultural stigmas.
Transgender Culture in Thailand
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Kathoeys and Inclusion
Thailand is well known for it’s high rates of sex-tourism, especially in cities such as Pattaya, Miss International Queen pageant and its organization is aiming to show the transgender women that there are alternative career choices. A Kathoey typically refers to a transgender woman or a very feminine acting male. A Kathoey is often called a Ladyboy in the English language. Although Thailand is much more accepting of transgenders than most other countries, there is still a stigma that surrounds LQBTQ+ individuals. Cultural norms still suggest that someone’s hobbies, mannerisms, and interests should match one’s sex. So, even though kathoeys are accepted in society, a cisgender male working a typically female job is still looked down upon. But, in October 1997, Thailand released a constitution that called for equal rights and treatment for all people, regardless of race, sex, gender, and more. Therefore, Thai culture slowly started to accept all individuals.
Sex Reassignment Surgery
Trans culture is very prevalent in Thailand due to extensive medical research done and sex-change surgeries. The first documented sex change in Thailand was in 1975, and attitudes and surgical techniques have improved much since then. On November 25, 2009, the Thailand Medical Council released a policy that was titled “Criteria for the treatment of sex change, Census 2009”. Since this policy change, ninety percent of those who received the sex change operations are foreigners to Thailand. With this much tourism based solely off of sex reassignment surgery, Thailand’s transgender community has not only grown, but trans individuals in Thai society are accepted on a much larger scale and will continue to do so in the upcoming years if the trend continues.
Effects of Transgender Beauty Pageants
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Transgender beauty pageants like Miss International Queen celebrate the contestants and promote awareness of the transgender community. Studies have shown that competing in prestigious beauty pageants are linked to higher levels of self-esteem. These higher levels of self-esteem can stem from a stronger sense of identity experienced after competing against other transgender women. However, finishing as winners or runners-up in the beauty pageants did not further increase levels of self-esteem and confidence. Instead, simply increasing the number of competitions were found to be much more effective in raising self-esteem. This information shows that the result of the beauty pageant is less important in terms of self-esteem than the actual participation of the beauty pageant itself.
Fair Competition in Pageants
Transgender only beauty pageants provide a way for transgender women to fairly compete against one another. Inclusion of transgender women in all-female beauty pageants like Miss Universe is not only less common, but it raises questions about fairness of competition. One viewpoint argues that though it is politically correct to include transgender women in beauty pageants, it does not promote the spirit of a fair competition. An analogy given for this theory is through the sex segregation of sports based on physical differences. Like how most women track and field sprinters cannot run faster than male track and field sprinters because of physiological differences, transgender women cannot always portray the feminine beauty norms that judges in popular beauty pageants critique contestants on. For example, some transgender women cannot achieve a certain “look” that comes from the wider hips that women tend to have. However, the theory acknowledges that it is difficult to determine which physical inequalities are actually relevant in judging feminine beauty and creating a fair competition. With transgender only beauty pageants, these inequalities are gone and a platform for equal competition can be established.
Fair Judgment in Pageants
Miss International Queen is owned by Tiffany's Show of Pattaya City, Thailand. It's Thai contestant qualifies for the competition by winning the title of Miss Tiffany's Universe. Miss Tiffany's Universe is also owned by Tiffany's Show. There has been controversy over the look and race of the winners of each year of Miss International Queen. Over its entirety, an African Diaspora Trans woman has never won the crown. There has been speculation that the pageant's judges are biased toward a certain look, since they are Thai themselves.
Beauty Pageants and Politics
Studies show that participating in beauty pageants can aid in achieving political office. In the United States, a significant 12% of all female governors competed in beauty pageants. Many of the same skills required to compete and do well in beauty pageants apply to politics as well. Some of these overlapping skills include public speaking, poise under pressure, and solicitation of funds. Pageant winners are often viewed as representatives of their hometown, state, or country. This experience in representing one's hometown in beauty pageants have been shown to translate over to prowess in political representation as well.
The number of transgender politicians and beauty pageants are relatively low when compared to their cis counterparts. However, beauty pageants can still serve as a way for transgenders to attain political office because the same dynamics of cis beauty pageants are present in transgender pageants. Prestigious transgender beauty pageants like Miss International Queen not only bring fame and name recognition to its winners, but provides a platform to bring awareness to transgender politics. Transgender beauty pageants represent a springboard to future opportunities for many transgender individuals.
|Nguyen Huong Giang||Miss International Queen Vietnam||Pattaya City, Thailand||28|
|Jiratchaya Sirimongkolnawin||Miss Tiffany's Universe||Pattaya City, Thailand||25|
|2016||x No Contest Held due to the mourning of King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand x|
|2015||Philippines||Trixie Maristela||Miss Gay Manila||Pattaya City, Thailand||26|
|2014||Venezuela||Isabella Santiago||Miss Gay Venezuela||Pattaya City, Thailand||20|
|2013||Brazil||Marcela Ohio ||Miss T Brasil||Pattaya City, Thailand||25|
|2012||Philippines||Kevin Balot ||Miss Philippines||Pattaya City, Thailand||25|
|2011||Thailand||Sirapassorn Atthayakorn||Miss Tiffany's Universe||Pattaya City, Thailand||20|
|2010||South Korea||Mini Han||Miss Korea Transgender||Pattaya City, Thailand||20|
|2009||Japan||Ai Haruna||Miss International Queen Japan||Pattaya City, Thailand||30|
|2008||x No Contest Held Due to the Political Unrest in Thailand x|
|2007||Thailand||Tanyarat Jirapatpakon||Miss Tiffany's Universe||Pattaya City, Thailand||25|
|2006||Mexico||Erica Andrews†||Miss Trans Mexico||Pattaya City, Thailand||26|
|2005||United States||Mimi Marks||Miss USA Continental||Pattaya City, Thailand||25|
|2004||Thailand||Treechada Petcharat Marnyaporn||Miss Tiffany's Universe||Pattaya City, Thailand||26|
By number of wins
List of contestants
- Color key
- Declared as Winner
- Ended as runner-up
- Ended as one of the finalists or semifinalists
The number of contestants are increasing year after year.
Chanelle Wilhelmina Maria
Diana Macarena Croce García
Daniella Akorfa Awuma
Miss South Africa
Tayla Skye Robbinson