Brazilian wins Pattaya's transgender queen contest

THAILAND - Marcelo Ohio won first prize, which included 300,000 baht (S$11,974), a crown with real gemstones and free surgery "for anything" at a famed plastic surgery clinic in Bangkok, organisers said.

The pageant held in the beach resort of Pattaya since 2004, ended around midnight Friday.

US citizen Shantell D'Marco came second in the beauty pageant, with Thai contestant Nethnapada Kanrayanon coming third.

There were 25 contestants from 17 countries in this year's contest, organised by the Tiffany's Show Pattaya Company, including three from Brazil.

The show was launched 40 years ago to provide Pattaya with a novel form of entertainment while offering transgenders a legitimate career option, said Arisa Phanthusak, Tiffany's manager and organiser of the Miss International contest.

In 2004, the show went international, offering transgenders from other countries an opportunity to bask in the limelight.

"After Thailand, I think the Philippines and Brazil are the countries that are most tolerant of transgenders," Arisa said.

Transgenders are numerous in Thailand, where many have found successful careers in the entertainment, fashion and cosmetics sectors and even in government service.

"It is in our character to be tolerant," Arisa said. "We are free here [in Thailand] and we are service-oriented people," she said.