This year’s Miss Universe pageant will have at least two trans women competing for the chance to win the beauty title.
Miss Portugal Marina Machete and Miss Netherlands Rikkie Valerie Kollé are both gearing up to compete for the coveted title of Miss Universe in the upcoming November pageant.
Just last week, Marina Machete made history as the first transgender woman to claim the title of Miss Portugal, establishing herself as one of the two trans contestants set to vie for the Miss Universe crown later this year.
Prior to her victory in the Miss Portugal competition, 28-year-old flight attendant Machete, stated that she was proud to be the first trans woman to compete for the title. Machete posted to Instagram, adding “For many years I wasn’t eligible to compete and now it’s such an honour to be a part of this incredible group of candidates!”
In a video shared on Instagram over the weekend, she shared a message to her followers talking about how she believed the possibilities in life were limitless.
Her followers commented their support for her Miss Portugal win, with one writing, “You are light Marina! Just as you inspire me, you inspire so many other women. You spread change in the world. Thank you for simply being you. I’m so, so proud of you. the universe is yours; you will fly só [sic] high, and I will always be here applauding you”- @carlotamlobo.
Earlier this year, Rikkie Valerie Kollé became the first trans woman to be crowned Miss Netherlands.
Miss Universe has been accepting trans candidates since 2012. In July 22-year-old Dutch model Kollé achieved a historic milestone by securing the Miss Netherlands title, marking the first time in the 94-year history of the pageant.
Kollé spoke with, Spanish daily newspaper in July describing her journey to being a ‘strong and empowered woman’.
Raised in Den Helder, a northern Dutch town, Kollé had a deep understanding of her identity from a young age and at the age of eight, her parents realised that their child, then known as Rik, had feelings different to other boys.
At that age, she went with them to a polyclinic for trans cases in an Amsterdam hospital where the doctors asked her a lot of questions and administered tests to make sure she was ready to “tackle the long journey of going from man to woman”.
She embarked on her transition journey at 10, and in January this year, she reached a significant milestone by undergoing a major transformative procedure. Kollé openly documented this moment on her Instagram account, and upon reflection, she expressed, “[I felt] a sense of pride in how far I’ve come. We’re in 2023, and it’s high time to destigmatise and normalise this.”
Kollé shared her joy with her Instagram followers, after her Miss Netherlands title win, writing “Yes, I am a trans woman and I would like to share my story, but I am also Rikkie and that is what matters to me. I did this on my own strength and enjoyed every moment”.
Machete and Kollé are set to stand as the transgender contestants amidst the 90 contestants vying for the crown on November 18.
There are two more qualifying pageants scheduled in Mongolia and China before the upcoming Miss Universe competition next month, but there are no current reports about transgender contestants participating from those regions.