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For KL-born chef, winning beauty pageant a chance to speak out on trans rights

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KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 1 ― For Laeticia Raveena, being crowned Miss Transsexual Australia 2017 was not just being recognised for her physical attributes, intelligence and talent.

The Malaysian-born pastry chef and model believes that such a win provides her a platform to raise awareness and draw public attention to the plight of the transgender community, who face persecution and discrimination on a daily basis.

Laeticia said that joining beauty pageants had allowed her, other transwomen and people from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community to share personal experiences which might eventually inspire others.

“I think all the pageants I have taken part in, whether I won it or not, have all changed my life in a dramatic way. Nevertheless I do think this is the biggest achievement of my career so far.

“It’s an international platform to throw light on trans awareness and to fight for equality. Now that an international contestant has won, I hope more people from around the world will start supporting the organisation and hopefully it opens doors for government in Australia to recognise trans issues now that the whole world is watching,” she told Malay Mail Online in an email interview this week.

The former leading showgirl of the world famous Alcazar Cabaret in Thailand had previously participated in a few major pageants like Miss International Queen and Miss Alcazar held in Thailand, Miss Transuniverse Malaysia and Super Sireyna Worldwide in Manila.

Laeticia said she was fortunate to have a strong support system and people who inspired her and believed in her potential.

“My mum, my sister, my family inspires me. My God inspires me. I feel there is a higher power watching over all of us and although I’m not a fanatic religious, I am a spiritual person.

“That energy inspires me to always be a better person and inspires me to give my all each and everyday. It inspires me to do good, dream big and reach for the stars. It inspires me to use my life as an instrument to inspire and encourage others to believe in their own dreams. If a simple girl like me could do it, then anyone can,” she said.

Laeticia, who is fluent in six languages ― English, Tamil, Malay, Indonesian, Cantonese and Thai ― had topped 10 other entrants to win more than RM65,000 in cash and kind prizes, including a US$15,000 voucher for gender correction or cosmetic surgery at Kamol Cosmetic Hospital in Bangkok.

She added that despite the difference in one person’s journey, fight and struggle, every young transperson must stay true to themselves no matter what the situation is.

“It may seem hard, impossible and hopeless at times but there are rewards to be reaped eventually.

“I have had my fair share of struggles but believe that you can do it not just for yourself but for your family, your friends and society. As the best way one can live life to the fullest is to totally be true to yourself,” she added.

Organisers of the competition in a statement earlier said Laeticia had promoted her advocacy group Rising Star during the competition, which aims to empower and support gifted young transgender women to achieve their full potential.

“When I first started my transition to become a woman, I had a hard time finding a support network or role models. I had to find out all the information about transition online and was not supported by my peers who had already completed their transition.

“I felt secluded and pushed away at an important time when a young transgender woman like myself was struggling to find her identity and place in society,” Laeticia was quoted as saying in the press statement released after her victory.

Miss Transsexual Australia is an annual beauty pageant held in Melbourne, and the biggest and most prestigious pageant in that country for female impersonators, transvestites, drag queen performers and transgender women since 2010.

Themed “Spectacular Beauty with A Purpose”, the three-hour stage show featured a costume, evening wear, swimwear and question-and-answer round.

Miss Transsexual Australia said it aims to promote visibility of transgender women and build awareness of transgender rights, promising cosmetic surgery as the top prize.

Transsexuals refer to those who were born with the physical appearance opposite to their gender identity, and desire to permanently transition to the gender they identify with by medical assistance.

The Malay Mail Online

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