It has featured transgender women as showgirls from the beginning, and Alisa was always concerned about the mistreatment they receive from society. "Back then, our transgender showgirls were always perceived with prejudice. In a tourist town like Pattaya, our girls had to carry their staff ID card whenever they went out to protect themselves, to prevent people and the authorities from mistaking them for prostitutes. They were mistreated. And this affected us because, as the executives, we need to be able to take care of them both inside and outside the theatre," said Alisa. "I have always questioned why people have to take issue with someone's gender. And so the idea goes from just staff management to the point where we ask what we can also do about society. Miss Tiffany's Universe was then born to put transgender women in the spotlight."
After the pageant's inaugural year was successfully hosted at the theater, Alisa pushed for a live broadcast of the event in the following year to raise society's awareness about transgender women and their existence. The pageant was first broadcast nationally on ITV channel in 1999. There was no other stage for transgender women at the time. "It was a big hit, as it was something that has never happened before in the country. It really made a stamp that we were the real deal," Alisa recalled. "At the same time, it was very difficult to find sponsors because no one wanted to attach their products to people of the 'third gender'." Miss Tiffany's Universe continued to build its name in two decade-long stages. Alisa said she devoted the first 10 years of the pageant to make people understand who transgender women are, and how different they are from gay men. "And when we reached a certain point, people began to realise who we are and that our girls are gorgeous. But we also want to go beyond that simple acknowledgment. We spent the next 10 years opening doors and opportunities, to send a message that men, women and transgender people are all equally capable. It's not necessary at all to push transgender people to be only make-up artists and showgirls when they have the ability and the desire to do so many other things."
Prior to the show, we went backstage to meet some of this year's contestants. Each of them came to Miss Tiffany's with hopes and dreams, some of which were quite unexpected. Contestant No.16 Nutchuda Lumphun, 25, said she wishes to become a member of parliament to represent and develop her hometown in Nakhon Phanom province. "On my own, I'm just a small person. But now as one of the Top 30 contestants, I consider myself a success. And if I can go even further, I'll have a bigger voice to speak for my province," said Nutchuda, who works as an actress and MC. Contestant No.22 Sasipichaya Pakdee said she's also here in hopes of making her voice louder. Onstage, she publicly advocated a law that would allow transgender people to legally change their gender and title. This is her second time at the pageant.