18 Photos From The World's Premier Transgender Beauty Pageant

The annual Miss International Queen beauty pageant uses feathers, dance numbers, and plenty of sparkles to celebrate the beauty and talents of transgender and transsexual people.

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1. On Friday, the 8th annual Miss International Queen beauty pageant was held in Pattaya, Thailand.

Damir Sagolj / Reuters

Twenty-one contestants from fifteen countries competed, including Sunny Dee-Lite from the U.S. All of the contestants were born male.

2. It's a weeklong event.

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Objectives of the competition include "to provide an opportunity for transgender/transsexuals to be more accepted in today's world," "to create human rights awareness among international communities," and "to build friendship and exchange ideas among international lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender/transsexual communities."

3. Contestants came to compete from all over the world, including the Philippines.

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Contestant Miriam Jimenez was born Bryan Arconado Jimenez. In an August interview, she said, "I can still remember when I was a kid, I wanted to have what girls have. I played with my mom’s makeup and put it on my face."

10. Contestants showed off their international costumes.

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Maria Jimenez from the Philippines (left) and Miss Thailand arguably upstaged Miss Universe. It's so unfair this doesn't get prime time airing in the U.S.

17. The 2011 winner, Sirapassorn "Sammy" Atthayakorn from Thailand, stopped by to mingle — possibly also Instagram — with the contestants.

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Sammy (right) posed with Miss Thailand. According to the Transgriot blog, there's some controversy surrounding the competition because there are charges that "the Miss International Queen pageant is rigged in favor of the homestanding Thai girls."

18. Kevin Balot, from the Philippines, was crowned the winner.

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Kevin was awarded $10,000, an apartment in Pattaya for a year, and a Thai cell phone. Plus, of course, the coveted Miss International Queen 2012 crown (which she has to give back for next year's competition).