A Thai transgender activist has bought the Miss Universe organization for $20 million and wants to use the event to “inspire” people like her
Thailand’s famous transgender activist Chakrapong “Anna” Chakrajutathib owns a 53 percent stake in Thai multinational conglomerate JKN Global Group, which announced it had purchased the rights to the annual Miss Universe international beauty pageant from IMG Worldwide, which had owned the Miss Universe organization since 2015.
From 1996 to 2015, the pageant was owned by former U.S. President Donald Trump, who sold the organization to IMG Worldwide after the Mexican immigrant scandal.
The pageant was first broadcast on American national television in 1955. Until 1971, the show was held in the United States, and since 1972, each year in a new country. Since 1994, Russia has participated in the contest, and in 2002 China joined the competition.
In a statement, Chakrajutathib called the purchase “a strong, strategic addition to our portfolio.”
The JKN conglomerate includes numerous companies in different industries, such as energy drinks, cosmetics, personal care and health care products. In addition, JNK includes companies specializing in the production and distribution of media content, filming of movies, TV series, commercials and television programs.
JKN Global Group said the Miss Universe name would be used to promote its consumer products. But Chakrajutatib added that she wants to use the beauty pageant to inspire women like her.
“It’s a universal platform … I can be an inspiration to a lot of people, particularly LGBTQ women, so they can be transformed,” the transgender woman said.
Chakrajutathib speaks openly about her experience as a transgender woman, and founded the Life Inspired For Thailand Foundation to advocate for dignity and opportunity for transgender people.
“I learned how to go through pain, so I prepared myself to be ready always … I turned pain into strength,” Chakrajutathib said.
As a young girl, Chakrajutathib attended an all-male school where she was harassed for thinking she was a woman. After achieving financial success, she spent 40 million baht ($1.6 million) on gender reassignment surgery and other procedures.
Thailand has a positive international reputation when it comes to the rights and lifestyle of the LGBTQ community. Despite this, the lack of procedures for transgender people to change their legal gender, combined with inadequate legal protections and social stigma, limits transgender people’s access to services and subjects them to daily humiliation, according to a report by New York-based Human Rights Watch.
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