“Trans Women Are Women, Full Stop.”: Miss Universe Organizers Make a Bold Declaration About Transgender Rights and Women’s Competitions as Two Transgender Women Compete on the Stage

The 72nd Miss Universe Pageant will feature a pair of transwomen competing for the title. The two contestants are Marina Machete, competing for Portugal, and Rikkie Kollé, a Dutch model representing the Netherlands.

A Stunning Announcement

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The 72nd Miss Universe competition this November 2023 will feature at least two transgender contestants. This would make waves in history and forever change the pageant’s narrative.

This announcement followed after the fact that Marina Machete would be competing after she won Miss Portugal. Her statement came on the heels of news that Rikkie Kollé would be representing the Netherlands; Kollé was also the first transgender winner of Miss Netherlands last July.

Humble Beginnings

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However, the road to fame and achievement wasn’t easy at all. In fact, Machete is a 28-year-old transgender woman, and for the last five years, she hasn’t been modeling because she has been working as a flight attendant.

Achieving Dreams

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Before winning Miss Portugal, Machete was seen on the pageant’s YouTube channel. She expressed, “As a trans woman, I’ve been through many obstacles along the way, but fortunately, and especially with my family, love proved to be stronger than ignorance.”

In the video, she also commented on the rising levels of “transphobia and intolerance” worldwide and how “alarming” it all is. She said it was “heartwarming” that the Miss Universe Organization changed its rules in 2012 to allow transgender contestants.

Her Competition

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On the other hand, Rikkie Kollé is a young woman who’s from Breda. She is of both Dutch and Moluccan heritage and, while born a man, is now a proud transgender woman.

A Passion for the Future

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Kollé expressed her desire for victory and how it would change the world. One of her goals is to be a voice and a role model for young women and queer individuals.

Fighting Discrimination

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Kollé believed that her position would allow her the opportunity to speak out for those who can’t. She has expressed this determination on multiple occasions, and with her upcoming stint on Miss Universe, there’s no doubt she will soon reach her goals.

Who You Are

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Aside from this, Kollé has made her passion and determination clear. She said, “In the end, it’s about being able to become who you are without issues, and that can happen when you want it to.”

Historic Proportions

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If either contestant were to win, it would be the first time a transgender woman had done so. This would also be the first time two transgender women were allowed to compete on the same stage, making this even more of a big deal.

Rule Changes

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Though many criticize the organization for its decision, the Miss Universe Organization is not one to back down.

In a statement to CNN, the Miss Universe Organization said: “Trans women are women, full stop. We are here to celebrate women, full stop. This has been true for more than a decade, and we’re proud to have made this change very early on compared to other programs.”

The Pioneer

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However, the two contestants aren’t the first transgender women who have been given the chance to compete in the pageant’s history.

The first was Ángela Ponce, who competed in 2018 and was from Spain. However, she was unable to advance to the finals.

Modern Sensibilities

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The changes made in 2012 were done to reflect how the world had changed. It was a change that was said to have increased inclusivity and diversity in keeping with modern norms.

The organization lifted the ban on transgender contestants after Jenna Talackova, a transgender woman who competed in the Miss Universe Canada pageant, was informed by organizers that she’d be disqualified due to not having undergone gender-affirming surgery yet.

New Ownership

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Another thing that propelled the Miss Universe pageant to be more accepting of inclusivity is that it has changed hands in the recent past. The new owner paid $20 million for the contest and is one of the people forging new paths for transgender contestants.

New Shoes

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The new owner, Anne Jakkaphong Jakrajutatip, is a Thai media tycoon and transgender rights advocate. She was also known for starring in Thai versions of reality shows like Project Runway.

The First Ever

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This made Jakrajutatip the first transgender woman in history who had bought the beauty pageant Miss Universe. That, in and of itself, is history being rewritten!

Wider Entry Net

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In a statement to CNN, the Miss Universe Organization has said it is “always evolving” and updating entry rules. In 2024, they plan to remove the age limit that currently restricts contestants to be 28 and under.

“Starting next year, every adult woman in the world will be eligible to compete to be Miss Universe,” concluded the statement.

Social Media Savvy

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Both Machete and Kollé have been using their social media platforms for good. They’ve been actively promoting a more “inclusive vision” for beauty pageants and working hard to help others feel inspired.

In a video posted to her Instagram page, Kollé said, “Miss Universe asked us to describe ourselves in one word. The word I’m choosing is ‘victory,’ because as a little boy, I conquered all the things that came through my path—and look at me now, standing here as a strong, empowering, and confident trans woman.”

Ending on a Strong Note

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The caption accompanying the video Kollé posted is as gut-wrenching as her words in the clip.

She said in the caption, “Never forget that we can do this together. You’re not alone on this planet. Never stop dreaming of being your ultimate and confident you! Never let someone tell you what’s good for you because the only thing that matters is that you become the best version of yourself!”

An Illustrious History

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Miss Universe has been running since 1952 and doesn’t look to be stopping any time soon. It scores contestants on personal statements, in-depth interviews, and evening gown and swimwear competitions.

This year, the organization will host almost 90 women from all around the world. Most finalists have already been selected, but a handful of countries, like China, have yet to confirm their representatives.

A New Beginning

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The pageant has certainly come a long way, proving that it judges based on more than just one’s physical appearance. This year’s Miss Universe competition is the start of a new beginning and will undoubtedly be the first chapter for a more open world!

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This post first appeared as “Trans Women Are Women, Full Stop.”: Miss Universe Organizers Make a Bold Declaration About Transgender Rights and Women’s Competitions as Two Transgender Women Compete on the Stage! on Quote Ambition.

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Karen Danao

Hi, I’m Karen, a content curator and writer for Quote Ambition; I’m also a marketing and advertising professional. Beyond the keyboard and the screen, I’m someone who’s out to enjoy every bit that life has to offer!

Poetry, philosophy, history, and movies are all topics I love writing about! However, my true passion is in traveling, photography, and finding common ground to which everyone from different cultures can relate.

With the many places I’ve been to, I found that love, inspiration, and happiness are some things that bring people together. No matter how different we are on the outside, I’m a true believer that our emotions don’t lie; if you dig deep into our psyche, we’re all the same inside.

This belief was further amplified when I joined Quote Ambition. Through the quotes I’ve read, collected, organized, and written about, I found that humans are resilient, creative, and compassionate.

We take from each others’ hearts and courage, and it’s through our individual experiences that we learn how to rise above our challenges and pain. In so many ways, Quote Ambition is a platform that allows people from all over the world to gain the inspiration they need anytime, anywhere!