For a country whic does not approve of starlets wearing revealing evening wear it seems Thailand has a slightly schizophrenic attitude towards sex.
As do most societies!
A 21-year-old student and aspiring social worker was named Thailand’s most beautiful transsexual late on Friday (local time), in a pageant bursting with glitter and sequins that has become a national spectacle.
In a nation obsessed with beauty pageants and renowned for its sexual tolerance, the Miss Tiffany Universe competition is taken every bit as seriously as more traditional pageants.
Wearing a white beaded evening gown, Thanyarasmi Siraphatphakorn won the crown in the early hours of Saturday after a glittering competition that was broadcast on national television.
Known locally as “kathoey,” or the third gender, Thai transsexuals have slowly been leaving cabarets for mainstream success in music or other pursuits, helped in part by the popularity of the Miss Tiffany contest.
“I am so happy to win the title. This is the biggest dream of every kathoey,” Ms Siraphatphakorn told reporters after winning the tiara, a 100,000 baht ($AU3,612) cash prize and a new Mercedes Benz.
The winners of the Miss Tiffany pageant, now in its 10th year, are often showered with entertainment deals, but Ms Siraphatphakorn said she wanted to return to the impoverished Issan region where she grew up to become a social worker.
“I want to become a social worker,” she said.
“Many people, particularly in Issan, do not have many opportunities, so they need help from teachers and social workers to improve their lives.”
The contestants compete in evening gowns and cocktail dresses, while other kathoey performers danced in garters, fishnets and feathered head-dresses.
Judges also made a nod to Thailand’s political turmoil, using the question and answer segment to quiz the contestants about their hopes for the constitution currently being drafted by a military-appointed panel.
Many contestants said they hoped the new charter would for the first time guarantee legal protections for gays, or that a kathoey politician would emerge to join in the process.
Seri Wongmonta, a prominent academic and an organiser of the event, says the judges asked political questions to show that the contestants are more than just pretty faces.
“Over the next five or 10 years, Thai kathoeys will become more and more famous for their beauty and their brains,” he said.