Actress Mela Habijan is the first winner of international online beauty pageant Miss Trans Global.
Two other Filipinas, Maria Robethany Thompson and Niña Marie Similatan, also made it to the top 10.
The pageant welcomes transgender women and “gender-nonconforming people from all backgrounds” to showcase their talents and advocate for the trans community.
The “Manilennial” star announced her victory following the virtual coronation that streamed on YouTube yesterday, Sept. 12.
Sharing a picture of her with loved ones, she wrote, “NOT YOUR TYPICAL CROWNING MOMENT, BUT I’M HAPPY TO BE HOLDING THE HANDS OF THE BEST PEOPLE IN MY LIFE!”
PILIPINASSSS, WE WON! WE WONNNNNNN!!! WE ARE THE FIRST-EVER MISS TRANS GLOBALLLLL! LORDDDDD!!! MARAMING, MARAMING…
The trans rights advocate, who has her own online talk show “3some!”, reflected on what the pageant meant for her, in a Facebook post today, Sept. 13.
“While going through the competition, I only had one thing in mind: ‘To represent the Philippines in the best way I can.’ I really wanted to make every Filipino proud and be worthy of carrying our flag,” she said.
“This is truly a defining moment in my life — a childhood dream that came true, a celebration of my truth, a testament of the love and acceptance that I get from the world, and my little way of honoring the life and dignity of Jennifer Laude and other trans Pinays ridiculed and oppressed [by] society.”
“While there are a number of people who look down and laugh at us for being trans, I will always stand tall for my trans community. I will always try my best to represent them well,” she promised.
“And I will always live by my beautiful purpose: to never give up, to never be bothered, and to never get tired of making my family, my friends, my country, and my God proud!”
‘My reign will not be about me’
Since Miss Trans Global highlights activism for transgender people, contestants were judged based on how they respond to questions about representing the trans community.
In the “Queen’s Speech” portion, Habijan laid out the plans she would implement if she were crowned Miss Trans Global.
One was Transform Woman, a social media support group for trans people. Another is a website, True Colors, which will feature the stories of transgender personalities. Habijan also said she would launch an online campaign called #Womanity to build partnerships globally among trans and queer organizations, as well as find allies among cisgender people, institutions and human rights groups.
“If I were to win this competition, my reign will not be about me. It will be about us,” Habijan stressed. “Holding each other’s hand, working together as one trans community.”
Habijan also made a powerful speech in the decider interview, where contestants were all asked the same question, “How will you educate [people] on why trans women are real women?”
“I believe as a transgender woman, my power lies in communication. I have the voice and I have the conviction,” she said.
The actress said she wanted people to “understand what the transgender experience is” and educate them on the history of trans women, citing that spiritual leaders like the babaylan were trans women in pre-colonial Philippines.
She added, “I would like them to look at me, I would like them to see me in a different light and see an empowered person who tries her best to show the world what I’ve got.” JB
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