From GMA News Online:
The Philippine-born Geena came to New York in 2005 to fulfill her dream of becoming a top model. She would later became a model for companies like Hanes, Target, Macy’s and Rimmel Cosmetics.
Although she came to an early realization at age 5 that she may be more “girl” than “boy,” it would be at age 15 when she joined her first beauty pageant on the goading of a woman who promised to take care of her registration fee and gowns. Geena won Best in Swimsuit and Best in Long Gown in addition to placing 2nd runner-up among 40-plus candidates in a Philippine province.
She would join more beauty contests wherever they were held – in the back of a truck or at a pavement near the rice fields — and found herself enjoying all attention and to a certain extent the validation of a long-held dream.
It was when she achieved success as a model that she decided to open up about her true gender identity. The death of Islan Nettles, a transgender woman from Harlem who was beaten to death and whose alleged attacker did not face charges, moved Geena to advocate for transgender individuals who face constant threats of hate and violence.