At the Miss Tiffany's Universe 2014 transgender beauty pageant

With her big eyes, long legs and svelte figure, Ms Nissa "Vanessa" Katerahong could pass off as a beauty queen in Thailand.

And indeed, she is one.

She is a transgender beauty queen. She won the Miss Tiffany's Universe 2014 transgender beauty pageant last Friday.

Ms Nissa, 22, a recent university graduate, beat 29 other contestants to win not just that title, but also Miss Sexy Star.

She won 120,000 baht (S$4,640), a Honda Jazz car and additional prizes from sponsors, Pattaya People reported.

Crowned onstage by Miss International Queen 2013, Brazilian Marcelo Ohio, Ms Nissa, who majored in fashion design, thanked her mother and grandmother in her acceptance speech.

The main competition, with this year's theme being Season Of Dreams, started last Tuesday and included evening dress, cocktail dress and swimsuit segments, as well as interviews.

Chinese-born US actress Bai Ling attended the event and served as one of the judges, The Central News Agency reported.

First runner-up Rachaya Noppakarun, 22, and second runner-up Treetipnipa Tippapada, 24, won 100,000 baht and 70,000 baht respectively, along with other prizes from sponsors.

The contest, hosted at Tiffany's Show Theatre in the beach resort town of Pattaya, has been held yearly since 2004. It aims to promote a positive image of transvestites. Part of the proceeds go to the Thai Red Cross.

This year was also the 40th anniversary of the Tiffany's Show, the transvestite cabaret the theatre is named after.

Ms Nissa will go on to represent Thailand in the Miss International Queen pageant later this year, which is held in the same location but features contestants from around the world.

This article was published on May 6 in The New Paper.

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