NARONG SANGNAK/EPA
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November 06, 2015 03:10 PM

The largest beauty pageant for transgender women has named its 2015 queen.

On Friday, Trixie Maristela of the Philippines was crowned the winner of Miss International Queen 2015, a transgender women-only annual pageant that draws contestants from all over the world.

Maristela, 29, is a graduate of the University of the Philippines’ European Languages department and plays the violin.

The event, which takes place annually in Pattaya City, Thailand, has racked up an impressive international list of winners since it first began in 2004. Previous sash-and-crown recipients include 2014 winner Isabella Santiago from Venezuela, 2009 winner Ai Haruna from Japan and 2005 winner Mimi Marks from the United States.

The organizers of Miss International Queen 2015 bill it as the largest and most prestigious pageant for transgender women. Indeed, previous competitors have made headlines in recent years. In 2012, Jenna Talackova, who competed in Miss International Queen 2010, registered to compete in Miss Universe Canada, but was later disqualified after the organizers learned she had been born male.

Talackova petitioned the Miss Universe pageant and Donald Trump, who owns the Miss Universe organization, to allow her to compete and they later reversed the disqualification. Through his lawyer, Trump said that as long as a contestant “meets the standards of legal gender recognition requirements in Canada” then they should be allowed to compete in Miss Universe Canada.

Talackova went on to reach the Top 12 in Miss Universe Canada 2012 and was one of four contestants who were awarded Miss Congeniality.

The Miss International Queen competition is open to anyone who was born male and is between the ages of 18 to 36. They can be a pre or post-operation transgender woman, and, in 2014, the prize included a cash prize of $12,500 and the option of free cosmetic surgery.

In format, the pageant is much like other beauty competitions – there is a talent portion and a swimsuit section. Contestants are also advised to wear traditional costumes from their country of origin.

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