(CNN) On her first full day in Thailand to fulfill her lifelong dream of competing in an international beauty pageant, Camille Anderson wrapped a day of glamorous photo shoots and returned to her hotel room. And burst into tears.
Maybe it was all too much.
Twenty-five years earlier she had been Mark, an effeminate boy trying on his mother’s clothes in a small city in the Philippines.
Now she was Camille, a grown woman preparing to represent the United States in Miss International Queen, the leading global pageant for transgender women, where she was competing against two dozen beauty queens from around the world.
She was jet-lagged and fighting a cold. Sure, she’d won beauty pageants back home in Los Angeles, but this was another level. The other contestants all looked gorgeous.
“I felt nervous and intimidated,” Anderson said.
That was nine days ago. Now, on the eve of Friday night’s pageant, she feels more optimistic about her chances.
“You walk in heels day and night. It’s like a test,” she told CNN. “But you have to be able to handle this, because you’re going to be in the spotlight. Whatever happens, this is an experience I will never forget.”