Against the odds, a Myanmar transgender joins the pageant

Against the odds, a Myanmar transgender joins the pageant
Myanmar national Tanya Muang took a great leap of faith by joining this year's Miss International Queen 2013 competition.

THAILAND - The 28-year-old is the first participant from Myanmar to join the transgender pageant contest hosted and organised by the Tiffany's Show Pattaya and now in its ninth edition.

Raised in a traditional family, Muang says that even five years ago, she wouldn't have dared speak openly about her desire to become a woman never mind join the competition.

"I've lived as a man for most of my life, as cross-dressers and transgenders are generally not accepted as part of Myanmar society. Finally, I moved to Bangkok, where I made the decision to become a woman.

"Even then I didn't have the encourage to tell my family. But now that Myanmar is on the road to democracy, I felt I could take another step forward in my life as a woman and join this international competition.

"I have also told my family about my transformation, and they are slowly starting to accept it," she adds.

Muang, who came to Bangkok to study at the Ramkhamhaeng University, and who is working as a programme officer at a non-governmental human-right organisation, recalls her family's shock when she told them she wanted to undergo a sex-change operation.

"The last time I went home to visit my family was in 2011 and that was when I told them. But I think they are starting to understand that this is who I am and accept it," she says.

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