WATCH: Venezuelan crowned transgender beauty queen in Miss International Queen 2014

A 22-year-old Venezuelan was crowned Miss International Queen on Friday night at a beauty contest that bills itself as the world’s largest and promotes the rights of transsexuals and transvestites.

Isabella Santiago beat 21 contestants from 18 countries to win the title and prize money of US$12,500 (S$16,100) at a glittering pageant in the Thai resort town of Pattaya. The winner of the 2014 contest can also opt for free cosmetic surgery.

1st runner-up Nitsa Katrahong from Thailand, winner Isabelle Santiago, and 2nd runner-up Piyada Inthavong from Laos posing for a photo after Santiago won.

Santiago, who wore a shimmery white evening gown, laughed and said “Sleep!” when asked about her plans after the win.

“When on stage, she is so elegant and that’s why the judges' decision was unanimous,” said Seri Wongmontha, one of the pageant’s judges.

The contest, in its tenth year, was held at the Tiffany’s nightclub, famous for its transvestite cabaret.

Like other beauty pageants, contestants for Miss International Queen paraded in their national costumes, evening gowns and swimsuits.

Venezuela's Isabella Santiago national costume for the Miss International Queen 2014.

Philippines' Maria Venus Gomez national costume for the Miss International Queen 2014.

Photos: Facebook, Instagram

Miss USA Samira Sitara (above) told Reuters TV that participating in the contest was a “dream come true”, and this was the first time she was coming out publicly after being encouraged by friends. “You know what, this is life and you can’t run away from the past. I can’t hide it anymore,” she said.

- Reuters

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