Marina Machete recently made headlines by becoming the first transgender woman to secure the title of Miss Portugal, marking a significant milestone in the world of beauty pageants. At just 28 years old, this accomplished flight attendant garnered immense support and appreciation for her historic win. In response, she conveyed gratitude for the “positive and empowering” messages she received from supporters, emphasizing that one’s possibilities in life are boundless. Machete’s triumph carries the promise of her competing for the Miss Universe crown, joining another trailblazer, Rikkie Valerie Kolle, who became the inaugural transgender Miss Netherlands winner earlier this year. Kolle, 22, also expressed her individuality by stating, “I’m trans, and I want to share my story, but I’m also Rikkie, and that’s what matters to me.” Her resilience shines through, as she gracefully navigated the negative online reactions that followed her victory.
Breaking Barriers and Facing Challenges
These inspiring achievements come with their share of challenges. Kolle, in particular, faced a barrage of hate speech online after her victory, highlighting the need for continued efforts in promoting acceptance and understanding within society. Despite the adversity, she remained resolute, focusing on the positive aspects of her journey. Marina Machete and Rikkie Valerie Kolle currently stand as the only transgender contestants among the 90 women vying for the Miss Universe crown on November 18. While there are still two more qualifying pageants before the main event, no local reports have identified additional transgender contestants. This underscores the importance of representation and inclusivity within the pageant world.
An Evolving Landscape
Miss Universe began allowing transgender women to compete in 2012, and in 2018, Angela Ponce made history as the first transgender woman to participate after being crowned Miss Spain. Kataluna Enriquez, crowned Miss Nevada in 2021, became the first transgender woman to compete in the Miss USA pageant, marking yet another significant milestone. Earlier this year, Daniela Arroyo González made history as the first transgender woman to compete in Miss Universe Puerto Rico, securing a place in the top 10 finalists. While progress is evident, not all pageants have embraced inclusivity. Miss Italy, for instance, faced a wave of controversy after barring transgender women from participating, leading over 100 transgender men to enter the competition.
In a groundbreaking move, Anne Jakkapong Jakrajutatip, a Thai businesswoman and transgender advocate, purchased the Miss Universe Organization for $20 million last year. Her ownership marks a historic moment, as she becomes the first woman to own the pageant. As the world of beauty pageants continues to evolve and reflect the diverse and inclusive nature of our society, Marina Machete and Rikkie Valerie Kolle stand as inspiring figures, breaking barriers and paving the way for future generations of transgender women in the world of glamour and grace.