A Melbourne-based Filipino was crowned Miss Transsexual Australia 2016 last Friday, besting seven other contestants for the opportunity to complete her gender transition.
The Cebu-born Andrea Jaca-Smith, a 35-year-old showgirl from Springvale, Victoria, took home a prize voucher for free gender reassignment surgery in Kamol Hospital in Bangkok.
She also won US$15,000, which includes surgery, airfare, accommodation, cash and other sponsor prizes.
For Smith, the victory was an unexpected boon as she had booked an appointment for a sex-change surgery in another Thai hospital for February.
"I am delighted to win Miss Transsexual Australia 2016’s gender reassignment surgery prize, which is just what I need to complete my transition to become who I really am – a woman," Smith said.
"The timing of winning the prize could not be more perfect," she added.
Smith also won the "Best in Victorian Secrets Wear" (swimwear) and "Best in Evening Gown" awards.
Before winning Miss Transsexual Australia 2016, the Cebuana entered Miss International Queen 2015 as Miss Belgium.
Other Filipinos also entered the competition, including second runner-up Talissa Mae Andrada and first runner-up Alyssa Luck, who also won "Best in Costume."
Smith moved to Melbourne in November 2015 after spending seven years in Brugge, Belgium. By fulfilling her duties as Miss Transsexual Australia, she hopes to promote her charity, AIDS Foundation Victoria.
"My message to the world is, 'Believe in your dreams and never give up'. You get to the end by achieving things one at a time," she said. —Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News