Trans beauty pageant crowns first ever black winner in 15-year history
Jazell Barbie Royale has been crowned this year's Miss International Queen - at a beauty pageant for transgender woman based in Thailand - making her the first black woman to win the contest since it was founded back in 2004.
The 31-year-old competed against 19 other contestants from all over the world - including Brazil and Peru - and as well as winning the crown, she also took home the Best Talent award.
Royale says that she wants to use her platform to raise awareness about the importance of HIV testing, practicing safe sex, and medical care.
"I want to be able to represent trans equality around the world. I want to be able to educate our allies, or people that don’t like us or understand us," she asserted during a recent interview with Travel News Asia. "I want them to see that we’re beautiful, we’re educated, we’re talented, and we can manoeuvre in society just like anyone else."
The American contestant went onto reveal that she initially had reservations about competing in the pageant;
"It was hard coming here to Thailand to compete for this pageant because there is no one else in the past that has won that looked like me. So that was kind of hard, and sometimes I’ve always had my doubts, my feelings like am I wasting my time? Will I be treated equally? Will I even be considered to be the winner?"
Ultimately, she hopes her win will inspire other people of colour who might say, "If she can do it, I’m coming to Miss International Queen next year and I’m going to compete".
Royale's triumph at the pageant comes as the Trump administration continues to impede transgender recruitment in the military. When asked whether she had a message to send to President Trump, she simply responded: "Please don’t run for next term."