Fil-Am beauty pageant organizer welcomes first transgender contestant

HERCULES, Calif. –  (Updated) The Miss Hercules pageant is making a conscious effort in accepting all contestants by allowing transgender Brandon Sooksampan to compete for this year’s crown.

The 15-year-old is the pageant’s first transgender applicant, and now its first transgender contestant.

Filipino American Richard White who is the president of the Miss Hercules Organization said that while he was surprised to see Brandon’s application, he welcomed it.

“Everybody said why not,” said White. “If the Miss Universe Organization accepts transgenders, if the Olympics accepts transgenders, the NCAA, and the Girl Scouts of America accepts transgenders – why can’t we?”

From an early age Brandon says that she has always known that she was female.

She says that her family, friends, and community have always supported her especially in her recent decision to enter the Miss Hercules pageant.

“I definitely want to win because I want to show people that no matter who you are or what you represent we’re all equal and really just show the world that transgender people are normal people,” said Brandon.

Brandon’s mom, Crystal, says that she was excited that Brandon was accepted into the pageant but still holds some motherly concerns.

“I’m a little bit nervous,” said Crystal. “I’m afraid of the rejection but when I met Richard he’s really supportive. I think starting with the Miss Hercules pageant that will be something closer to her dream and I’m very happy for her.”

Brandon also says she is inspired by fellow transgender women Caitlyn Jenner and Geena Rocero.

“It’s definitely liberating to see people who go through the same thing as you and really accomplish things in life,” said Brandon.

Brandon is aware that there may be haters out there and for them she shares this message.

“It’s fine. You guys can just say anything you want about me because I’m just going to live my life because I want to be happy and that’s what I aspire to be,” said Brandon.

Brandon and her supporters hope her participation in the Miss Hercules pageant can help raise awareness of the trans community.

“For my future who knows what will happen all I know is that I hope it will bring my community close and it would bring all transgender girls to really just be proud of who they are and be happy,” said Brandon.

The Miss Hercules pageant will take place on Oct. 17, 2015 at the Deanza Performing Arts Theater in El Sobrante, CA.

Balitang America originally reported that Brandon Sooksampan is Filipino American. She is, in fact, of Laotian decent, not Filipino. 

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