In a remarkable show of solidarity, trans men from have decided to challenge the ban on trans women competing in the Miss Italy contest. This brave initiative is happening in a context of events showing progress in other European countries: a historic win by Rikkie Valerie Kolle, the first transgender woman ever to become Miss Netherlands, and the upcoming participation of Lennie Blockmans, the first trans contestant in the next edition of Miss Belgium. These developments are indicative of a growing recognition of transgender rights and the urgent need for greater inclusivity within beauty pageants and society as a whole.
By entering the Miss Italy contest, these resilient trans men are defying the deeply established prejudices that have barred trans women from competing for so long that has recently been confirmed by pageant organizer Patrizia Mirigliani. The recent triumph of Rikkie Kolle in the Miss Netherlands pageant has proven that winning knows no gender, inspiring many to take a stand against discriminatory practices. This victory has served as a catalyst for change, igniting hope and encouraging solidarity among trans individuals worldwide.
While many people have been advocating for these kind of pageants to be ended because of the deeply patriarcal way they are held, we can still hope for more inclusivity while they are still happening.
The participation of trans men in the Miss Italy contest represents a pivotal moment in the ongoing struggle to redefine traditional gender norms. They decided to enter the contest after Mirigliani confirmed the pageant was only open to contestants who were assigned female at birth.
Embracing their identities with pride, these contestants challenge society’s narrow definitions of gender expression and are using the absurdity of Mirigliani’s point of view at their advantage to discredit it. Their refusal to conform to outdated standards is a way to open doors to understanding in society fostering a culture of acceptance. The landmark win of a trans woman in the Miss Netherlands pageant has already paved the way for greater acceptance, highlighting the transformative power of visibility and representation.
These men hope to raise awareness about the myriad challenges faced by trans individuals, beyond the realm of beauty pageants. Their collective voice amplifies the call for equal rights, healthcare access, and wider opportunities, illuminating the path towards an inclusive society.
Activist Federico Barbarossa, who is from southern Italy, began the protest. He told PinkNews that the pageant’s stance is yet another example of growing hostility towards LGBTQ+ people in his country. “Since the very first moment I heard about the ‘women from birth’ rule, it was clear to me how out of touch with the present this pageant was,” Barbarossa said. “I signed up as a joke at first, but I really wanted to blow away the sand castle built on biology that they’ve been hanging on to.” He added that he hopes to “dismantle an outdated fetish for biology and so-called ‘right bodies’ that often leads to dehumanisation of trans people”.
The LGBTQIA+ community is already under attack in Italy right now with Meloni’s government scrapping a parent from the ID of same-sex couple’s children and only keeping the mother who carried the pregnancy.
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