Thailand: A developing legacy

Inside the theatre, spotlights illuminated the stage, sparks flew and confetti dropped as a tall figure in an elegant sparkling gown walked forward with a smile and waved to the cheering crowd. A crown was soon placed on her head. It was another joyous night at Tiffany's Show Theatre in Pattaya last Saturday, where its famous transgender beauty pageant Miss Tiffany's Universe crowned its 22nd winner to continue the legacy of the first, biggest and longest-standing stage for Thai transgender women.

The woman behind the pageant's success is Alisa Phantusak Kunpalin, chairperson of Miss Tiffany's Universe Organisation and managing director of Tiffany's Show Pattaya, who pioneered the pageant back in 1998.

Before taking on the beauty pageant, Tiffany's only put on cabaret shows, which is something it's still famous for today and is considered one of the must-see shows in Pattaya. It has featured transgender women as showgirls from the beginning, and Alisa was always concerned about the mistreatment they receive from society.

"Back then, our transgender showgirls were always perceived with prejudice. In a tourist town like Pattaya, our girls had to carry their staff ID card whenever they went out to protect themselves, to prevent people and the authorities from mistaking them for prostitutes. They were mistreated. And this affected us because, as the executives, we need to be able to take care of them both inside and outside the theatre," said Alisa. Read more via Bangkok Post