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More than a pretty face

in THAILAND, 09/11/2012

Filipino winner of Miss International crown hopes to promote acceptance for transponders. Kevin Balot will return to her home in the Philippines both as a male and female. "Now that I have recognition on the world stage, I hope my dad will discover that he has a son and a daughter in me. He has big expectations of me since I'm the only boy in the family," the Filipino gushed minutes into winning the Miss International Queen 2012 title Friday evening.

The recognition, the 21-year-old said, would reinvigorate her determination to promote understanding and acceptance for the transgender community back in her country, "which is not as liberal as Thailand in terms of accepting the third gender."

Balot, a nursing graduate from Far Eastern University, will receive $10,000 (Bt310,000) and other prizes and gifts. She gave an impressive performance during the question and answer segment in the final round, which helped clinch the crown.

As the competition drew to a close Friday evening, the heat could be felt backstage. The contestants opened up before journalists how difficult life is for transgender and transsexuals.

"I was five years old when boys started to push me away because I looked a little different," Imanni Da Silva from Angola said, adding that bullying and discrimination continued back home.

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