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Miss Universe Pageant Will Have at Least Two Transgender Contestants

Miss Universe Pageant Will Have at Least Two Transgender Contestants
SPhotograph / Shutterstock

Rikkie Valerie Kolle and Marina Machete both made history as the winners of their country's pageants. Now, they're making history competing for Miss Universe.

The Miss Universe pageant will have at least two transgender women competing this year.

Last week, Marina Machete became the first transgender woman to win Miss Portugal, while also becoming the second transgender contestant that will compete for Miss Universe later this year.

Beauty pageant finalist competes without makeup

The 28-year-old, who is a flight attendant, thanked her supporters for the “positive and empowering” messages that she has been receiving since being crowned on Thursday.

“To all of you watching, I just want to say that, like the universe, your possibilities in life are limitless,” she said over the weekend in a video on Instagram. “So don’t limit yourself to any dream that you have.”

She also said that she is excited to meet the other delegates in November at the 72nd Miss Universe pageant in El Salvador.

Miss Universe began allowing trans women to compete in the pageant in 2012. In 2018, Angela Ponce became the first transgender woman to compete in the pageant after being crowned Miss Spain.

Last year, Thai businesswoman and transgender advocate, Anne Jakkapong Jakrajutatip, bought the Miss Universe Organization for $20 million and became the first woman to own the pageant.

In July, Rikkie Valerie Kolle, 22, was the first woman to be crowned Miss Netherlands.

“Yes I’m trans and I want to share my story but I’m also Rikkie and that’s what matters to me,” she wrote in an Instagram post. “I did this on my own strength and enjoyed every moment.”

Kolle became the target of hate speech online not long after she was crowned.

“I thought we were really accepting … in the Netherlands, but the hate comments show the other side of our society. I hope that’s a wake-up call,” Kolle told Reuters. “For now, I fully ignore it. I focus on the good things coming my way.”

Currently, Machete and Kolle are the only transgender contestants among the 90 women. There are two more qualifying pageants that will occur in Mongolia and China before competing for the crown on Nov. 18. There havebeen no transgender contestants identified in either of those pageants.

In 2021, Kataluna Enriquez became the first transgender woman to compete in the Miss USA pageant after she was crowned Miss Nevada. She did not end up competing in that year’s Miss Universe pageant.

In February, Daniela Arroyo González became the first trans woman to compete in Miss Universe Puerto Rico. According to her Instagram she finished in the top 10.

Not all pageants are willing to include transgender women. In July, the Miss Italy pageant organizer said the pageant would not be allowing transgender women to compete which then caused more than 100 transgender men to enter the pageant.

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Kylie Werner