Beauty stars give insight into life in the third gender
After the various stage showing sessions, the 17th Miss Tiffany’s Universe 2014 transgender beauty pageant concluded on May 2 with the voting resulting in Nissa Katerahong (Nuey), a 22 year-old from Prachuab Khirikan, being crowned this year’s winner (as reported in last week’s Pattaya Mail.)
Here in Thailand, many transgender beauty pageants have been hosted throughout the country and transgenders are seen in public as frequently as gay and lesbian couples, especially in Pattaya. Many “ladyboy” entertainment venues are situated throughout the city, all forming part of the town’s cornupia of tourist attractions that draw people from all over the world.
(From left): Marcus Souksi, Pattaya Mail reporter, Rachaya Noppakaroon (Mick), Paul Strachan, PMTV productions Manager, Nissa Katerahong (Nuey), Kamolthep Malhotra, General Manager of Pattaya Mail Media Group and Trithipnipa Thippaphade (Arm) pose for a photo at the Pattaya Mail Media offices, Wedneday, May 14.
In many other countries however, transgenders are still fighting for equal rights and that marks Thailand as a very special country for members of the ‘third’ gender.
On May 14, Nuey, along with the Tiffany’s Universe pageant 1st and 2nd runners-up, Rachaya Noppakaroon (Mick) and Trithinipa Thippaphada (Arm), attended the Pattaya Mail office for an interview, with many of the questions for the three young beauty stars being submitted by Facebook fans and PMTV viewers. With curiosity, but appropriate questioning, the Pattaya Mail herewith uncovers the mindset of the 3 winners.
Miss Tiffany’s 2014 winner Nissa Katerahong (Nuey).
Many questions posted by Facebook fans related to the cosmetic and body altering surgical procedures undertaken by the contest winner.
“I had my first surgery done when I was 20 years old, which is a safe and legal age to undergo the procedure,” replied Nuey. “The first surgery I had was the breast enhancement, and yes, it did hurt, but with the goal to become beautiful, it’s normal to have to face the pain. The cost of the surgery would really depend on how much you want to have done. Personally I have probably spent about 500,000 baht on all the surgery I’ve had.”
One question that many people wanted know was how the three contestants’ families had reacted to their decision to live life as women and if they had been supportive.
“I had the urge to become a woman when I was still very young and my parents have always accepted who I am with love as long as I’m a good person and have my goals,” said Nuey.
Mick in contrast had experienced a slighty tougher time with his own family members.
“My parents didn’t like the idea at first, it was hard for them to face other family relatives, but everything changed afterwards. The country is not really strict with transgenders and people are starting to accept the concept of a male wanting to be a woman. After following my heart and achieving success in the Miss Tiffany’s contest my family is now very proud of me.”
Arm also had a positive story to tell: “Being who you want to be is normal. I have always had a passion of being a woman. Now that the transgender society is growing, family and friends are actually proud of what I’ve achieved.”
Another question posed by a Pattaya Mail reader pertained to mainstream beauty contests, and in particular whether our three guests from Tiffany’s felt they should be allowed to line up and compete against female contestants. This question elicited a divided opinion.
“I really think it is better to compete separately as it is another way for transgender beauty pageants to stand out a bit more and a better opportunity for further progression for us in society,” replied Nuey
The other two contestants had a differing opinion however.
“That is a really good question and we both think that it would be great to compete against women. It’s a challenge, but it is a good opportunity to show the potential of transgenders,” said Arm.
A Facebook fan named Carlos Arturo, a gay man from Argentina, which is another country still fighting for equal rights, wrote in and asked what changes the Tiffany’s winners would like to see in Thailand to make it even better for gay and transgenders? All three replied with similar viewpoints and objectives.
“We would like to show the world that we are regular people, just like anybody else. As representatives of transgenders we would like for people to see us on the same level and treat us like women, which is the life we have chosen for ourselves,” said Nuey.
One other fact brought up by the three contestants related to the matter of National Service. All men in Thailand are required by law at the age of 21 to undergo some form of military service and training.
“We think it would be hard to go against this law but it would be nice if some exceptions could be made for transgenders, as many would have already taken the decision to become women from their early teens”, said Nuey.
Another problem for transgenders can arise when trying to travel abroad and crossing borders. Born as a male, their ID cards would show them as being a man but their present physical appearance would be that of a woman. “Perhaps Thailand should make an exception in this case as well”, replied the ladies.
The three were united in their final piece of advice that they wanted to convey to other transgenders in the community: “Be who you are and stick with your passions. Keep fighting for who you want to be and never give up. Let the world know that we are all regular people with our own unique dreams and goals. We are lucky to be Thais as this country doesn’t have any restrictions for transgenders, so follow your heart and be proud of who you are,” they said.