I told y'all about the annual Miss Tiffany Universe pageant that takes place in Thailand in May, but thanks to all the last minute activity swirling around me in preparation for the NE Transgender Pride weekend I didn't let you know who won.
The judges had a tough job deciding which one of these thirty beautiful ladies would wear the crown, but Miss Tiffany Universe 2008 is 21 year old college student Kangsadarn Wongdusadeekul or Nong Noeng. She received 100,000 baht ($3000 USD) and a Honda Jazz in addition to the crown and all the assorted gifts that come with this title.
First runner up was Nannapas Wechakul or Nong Golf, who received 40,000 baht ($1200 USD) and also received a trophy and sash. Second runner up was Pailin Denfahnapapol or Nong Bank who received 20,000 baht ($600 USD) a sash and a trophy.
Her father is a Thai army officer and she grew up on a military base. She actually tried to join the army, but as she told the audience, "Last year, I went to register as a soldier but my figure had changed, so the government did not let me."
"We are beautiful - so we have no need to be soldiers," she went on. Transgender people are barred from serving in the Thai military despite a law classifying them as “mentally disturbed” being overturned in March.
The nationally televised pageant is one with a purpose. In addition to promoting Pattaya, 100 miles southeast of Bangkok, as a worldwide tourist destination and the Tiffany's transgender cabaret, it also serves as a fundraiser for several Thai charities.
Nong Noeng will be the Thai representative later this year at the 2008 Miss Universal Queen pageant which is hosted around October by Tiffany's in Pattaya as well. That pageant is open to transwomen around the world, and Nong Noeng has the task of trying to keep that increasingly popular and prestigious title at home.
But the major goal of the Miss Tiffany Universe pageant is promoting acceptance of Thai transwomen and showcasing their beauty and intelligence.
Miss Tiffany 2004, Treechada Malayaporn, known as Polly, is an example of the growing success of those efforts to improve the images of Thai transwomen. She is now a successful actress and television presenter and was on hand during the night's festivities as an awards presenter.
Everyone thought I was a real girl before Miss Tiffany but after that everybody knew me as I am, a ladyboy," Polly said. "Everything changed. Now I'm studying international law. I just want to be someone who is clever and socially accepted."
And that's what your transgender sisters (and brothers) in Thailand and around the world want as well.