An Australian beauty pageant for drag queen and transgender contestants will celebrate its tenth anniversary this year.

Miss Gay & Miss Transsexual Australia International is a pageant which promotes the acceptance of transgender women and drag queens, and the charities and platforms which benefit them.

Founded by Gayzha Davao, the competition launched in St Kilda in 2010 to a 270 person strong crowd, crowning original winners Miss Transsexual Australia 2010 Chelsey Mikimoto and Miss Gay Australia 2010 Kamira Holden.

“It’s about strength, character and showing the world who transsexuals are in Australian society,” Davao told Star Observer following the announcement of the original winners.

“Transsexuals can step up to the stage to show that beauty exists in all human beings. It’s not about gender.”

Thai beautician Nisarat Kidhatong is the reigning Miss Transsexual Australia 2018, while Melbourne’s Esther Rix, the drag persona of Kristian Zorino, is the current Miss Gay Australia 2018.

Last year’s pageant saw contestants compete in themed costume, talent, swimwear, and evening gown or couture categories, and take part in an onstage question and answer round.

This year’s theme is ‘Colours of Diversity’ and will see 20 transgender women and drag queens from around Australia and the world converge at Williamstown Town Hall in Melbourne on Saturday 2 February to represent their community and culture in the competition, as part of the 2019 Midsumma Festival.

This year’s pageant has taken the major step – following on from prominent international competitions such as Miss World – in removing the swimsuit category, replacing it with the more inclusive ‘Themed Apparel’ with this year’s theme being Neon & Colourful activewear.

The decision was made in order to ensure the pageant is inclusive of all trans women.

To celebrate the tenth anniversary of the event ‘Showgirls’, a showcase of past winners and current contestants, will be staged at community-run bar Pride of Our Footscray on Thursday 31 January.

“Miss Gay & Miss Transsexual Australia International is a celebration of drag queens and transgender women,” said Davao.

“We have had a wonderful 10 years of working to increase the visibility of, provide a voice for, and, promote inclusion, diversity and equality for the LGBTQIA+ community, and look forward to making the pageant even better in years to come.”

To learn more about this and other events check out the full 2019 Midsumma Festival Guide here.

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