Transgender contenders are making their mark in the beauty pageant world.
In June, Kataluna Enriquez won the Miss Nevada title. In July, Rikkie Kollé won the Miss Netherlands pageant. Last week Marina Machete won the Miss Portugal title.
National title winners Kollé and Machete will compete against each other in the upcoming Miss Universe competition — making it the first time the event will feature two transgender participants.
The controversial move to allow biological men to participate in the event has drawn sharp criticism, with many saying they will not tune in to the November event.
Machete celebrated the pageant organizer’s decision to allow transgender participants, writing on Instagram: “Proud to be the first trans woman to compete for the Miss Universe Portugal title!”
Machete added: “For many years I wasn’t eligible to compete and now it’s such an honor to be a part of this incredible group of candidates! We’re counting down to @missuniverse 2023. El Salvador, see you soon!”
Kollé has become an advocate for trans issues, declaring after winning Miss Netherlands, “They [critics] see us as monsters, and my daily DMs are full of people wishing me dead…Wishing me dead and telling me to [commit] suicide, those things are terrible to write, but at the same it’s only lifting me up because I get a bigger platform than I could ever dream of.”
The trans advocate argued that “competing as a transgender contender offers a space to represent the LGBTQ+ community,” adding, “Let’s make my Queer community proud by doing this.”
Notably, Miss Italy pageant organizers banned biological men from participating in the event.
Patrizia Mirigliani, a Miss Italy official said, “Since it was born, my competition has foreseen in its regulation the clarification according to which one must be a woman from birth.”
In 2019, transgender beauty pageant participant Anita Green won the title of Miss Montana but was told she could not compete in the Miss America pageant. Green filed a discrimination lawsuit against Miss United States of America (USOA) pageant officials.
The Hill reported the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Green, arguing that “forcing the pageant to allow transgender women to compete would infringe on its ability to express “the ideal vision of American womanhood.”
Writing for the majority, Circuit Judge Lawrence VanDyke noted: “Miss United States of America expresses its message in part through whom it chooses as its contestants, and the First Amendment affords it the right to do so.”
VanDyke added: “Given a pageant’s competitive and performative structure, it is clear that who competes and succeeds in a pageant is how the pageant speaks. Put differently, the Pageant’s message cannot be divorced from the Pageant’s selection and evaluation of contestants.”
In a statement issued through her attorney after the ruling, Green noted she believed the Miss United States of America pageant is “on the wrong side of history” and wrongly discriminates against transgender people.
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