Jazell Barbie Royale—a performer at Parliament House in Orlando—was crowned Miss International Queen on March 8. Kanwara Kaewjin from Thailand and Yaya from China were named first and second runner-up, respectively.
The Miss International Queen Pageant is a worldwide beauty pageant for transgender women held every year in Pattaya City, Thailand.
Royale is the first black trans woman to take the crown as Miss International Queen and the first contestant from the U.S. to win the top prize since Mimi Marks in 2005.
“It is such an accomplishment, not only for Orlando but for the United States,” says Darcel Stevens, Parliament House’s entertainment director. “The gravity of what this win means to the country and internationally, especially in the trans community, is huge.”
Royale also works locally with Bliss CARES, a nonprofit organization in Orlando whose mission is to treat and prevent HIV/AIDS, hepatitis and other STDs in the Central Florida area.
“Jazell took that work and made it her platform at the pageant, speaking on the importance of PrEP,” Stevens says. “She spoke about the facts with such ease and I think that’s what took her over the top to win.”
Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, or PrEP, is a daily medication used to help lower the chance of people getting infected with HIV. PrEP is approved by the FDA and has been shown to be safe and effective at preventing HIV infection.
“Now she has an international platform to speak about PrEP and all the things important to her, and that is a really big deal for someone in our community,” Stevens says.
Miss International Queen Pageant is the largest transgender beauty pageant in the world and has been an annual event in Thailand since 2004. The pageant was previously known as Miss Tiffany’s Universe and began running in Thailand in 1998.
Other U.S. performers who have placed at Miss International Queen include Shantell D’Marco—who was first runner-up in 2013—and Stasha Sanchez—who was second runner-up in 2010.
The pageant was featured in the CNN docu-series “This Is Life with Lisa Ling” in 2017.