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Why Miriam Quiambao Will Continue to be Ms. Universe in My Eyes

I love Arnold Clavio. I love how he handled his interview with Miriam Qiuambao and Naomi Fontanos (Chairwoman of Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines) on the topic of transgender women being allowed to compete in the Ms. Universe pageant. Clavio kept the mood light, he did not show any bias or transphobia, and he asked the right questions.

I also love Naomi for not letting Miriam get away with her attempt to impose her version of the truth on Naomi. I love Naomi for standing up for transwomen and LGBT people.

But most of all, I love Miriam for embodying what a beauty queen should be. Sure, she does not completely understand the difference between sex and gender. Sure, by saying that womanhood is determined by chromosomes, she has effectively misinformed her more than 250,000 Twitter followers. But I don’t take this against her. It is irresponsible, definitely! But she is a beauty queen, not a gender and sexuality expert. So chill out!

I also love Miriam for using her own masculine childhood experience of playing with soldiers and “going on adventures” and how it did not turn her into a man. And of course, I agree that just because you played with dolls when you were young, it doesn’t mean you will become a woman. I’m not quite sure where she got this line of thinking but hey, beauty queens will be beauty queens. So don’t worry girls, you can do boy stuff and still be a beauty queen when you grow up. Take it from Miriam!

And I just love how she constantly used her faith throughout the discussion. Sure, it was arrogant of her to say that she knew the truth and Naomi didn’t. Hell, she was practically telling Naomi that Naomi’s entire life was a big lie! Sure, she probably doesn’t know that the existence of an absolute truth has been debated by philosophers for so many millennia. But on stage, “Leave it to God” will earn you more beauty queen points than “The truth in a particular context – (is) a statement that is known to be correct —ie. in accord with reality, as corroborated by evidence or related experience.

So do I hate Miriam Quiambao? Of course not! This whole fuss just reinforced my original belief that beauty pageants should just be abolished in the first place. Miss Universe is run by a rude, disrespectful, macho businessman who cares about ticket sales — not gender equality. If it has to do with gender at all, it perpetuates gender stereotypes. It objectifies women and reduces beauty to being young, single, and infertile (read: get older than 27, marry your partner, or get pregnant and you are disqualified).

Do I love Miriam? Of course! Well, maybe not as much as before but I am still a huge fan of her outer beauty. You could say I’ve lost hope in her when I saw how things turned out after I wrote her an open letter. But when the dust has settled, when people start overreacting to other news, when we start getting used to small steps that lead to social change, I will continue to be amazed by Miriam’s statuesque pose. I will still watch Miriam get clobbered by Eugene Domingo in Kimmy Dora Part 2. And yes, Miriam Quiambao will continue to be Ms. Universe in my eyes!

Image from

Posted in Gender Rights, Humor, SocietyComments (9)

An Open Letter to Miriam Quiambao (1999 Ms. Universe Runner-Up)

Dear Miriam,

Warm greetings to a lovely woman! I have been a big fan ever since you placed first runner up in the 1999 Ms. Universe. Yes, even before major major mistakes and tsunami walks came into existence, you already captured the global audience (and me) with your signature statuesque pose. And who could forget how gracefully you picked yourself up when you fell on stage? Indeed, you have become an inspiration to other women. As for me, my admiration went beyond that pageant. I consider you one of the few women in show business who actually have real skill and talent plus a humanitarian heart to boot.

But today, I am writing you about this deep pang of disappointment that stabbed me from the inside when I read your tweets. The first that caught my attention was this:

Screenshot of retweet

( – posting retweet as original has been deleted)

I immediately called this out and sent you a direct tweet:

my reply

after which, you replaced your tweet with this (the version that others picked up and retweeted):

Miriam s new tweet

I want to make it clear that I have yet to take a stand on the policy change so I don’t think we will have any problems in that area. I am writing you in hopes that I could help you form a new perspective on transgender issues and concepts by addressing your tweets point by point.

Tweet #1:

Tweet #1

Do not be surprised but just by putting the words “real” and “women” next to each other, you have already made a discriminatory remark. You have already judged transgender women as “fake women” thereby relegating them to second class citizens. My friend Sass wrote a comprehensive explanation on what makes a woman, a woman. She wrote:

“How do you determine who is “naturally born a woman”? By considering who is born with a vagina or not? Or by considering the configuration of the brain when one is born? According to research, the sexual differentiaton of the body into male and female does not end when you were born. The brain itself undergoes sexual differentation as well and this sexual differentation happens independently of the differentiation of the genitalia, and it continues even after you were born (Hence, assigning a baby female or male at birth should be, at best, considered provisional). ALL these processes are natural. If we are going to use this line of thinking with the case of Jenna Talackova. Jenna is a “natural woman” for she was born with a brain that sexually differentiated into a female brain. Unless of course you want to confine femaleness to (being born with a vagina), which of course is not a scientific decision but a social decision based on a genital centric tradition.”


Although I could be wrong, I believe you are the kind of person who would favor the brain as the seat of identity instead of the genitals. Indeed, if a baby is born without genitals, we can always wait for the baby to grow up and decide (using their brain) if their identity is female or male. However, if a baby is born with genitalia but without a brain, this discussion would be irrelevant as there would not even be a living human to speak of. So as long as there is a functioning brain that self-identifies as female, the owner of that brain shall be a woman, a “real woman”, regardless of her genitalia.

Tweet #2:

Actually, the Miss Universe website states the following rule:


No, contestants may not be married or pregnant. They must not have ever been married, not had a marriage annulled nor given birth to, or parented, a child. The titleholders are also required to remain single throughout their reign.”

Falling in love and marrying a partner, giving birth, becoming a mother, aren’t all these part of the essence of being a woman? Before you even turn your back on Jenna, shouldn’t you be defending the rights of the “real women” out there who are disqualified because they’ve gone through such womanly experiences like giving birth? This is not a rhetorical question. I honestly, genuinely believe you are in a position to push this kind of change. I honestly, genuinely believe that given a choice you would pick the path of inclusiveness (questioning this rule) instead of the path of exclusiveness (disapproving of Jenna’s participation).

Tweet #3

Tweet #3

By letting Jenna participate after disqualifying her, Donald Trump has sent a very powerful message. And that message is when Jenna won her case, she “stood up for the rest of the women who have fallen whether on or off stage,” through Jenna’s example, she has “shown courage and strength of being a woman,” she is “a good example to the rest of the women in the world!” Oh wait, that was your message. But see, if you claim to be a humanitarian, I would expect that you would see the positive and share in human celebration rather than see the negative and throw a curtain of exclusion.

I don ‘t think your world would fall apart if I decided I didn’t like you anymore but much of how I regard you depends on how you will respond to this situation. With some luck and critical analysis, may you join the ranks of other LGBT allies like Hillary ClintonAnne Hathaway, and Adam Levine. When that day comes, no Jenna Talackova would have to pick herself up from falling on a transphobic misinformed stage.

Still a fan,

Ron de Vera


Posted in SocietyComments (37)