Scores of female-to-male trans individuals entered the Miss Italy beauty pageant in protest of its “born female” rule.
Trans Men Make a Statement
In a bold move that turned heads across the globe, over 100 trans men entered the Miss Italy beauty pageant.
This unexpected tide of entries came in response to controversial remarks by the pageant’s organizer, Patrizia Mirigliani, who emphasized that contestants should be “women from birth.”
During an earlier conversation on Radio Cusano, Mirigliani expressed her firm stance against revising the pageant’s entry regulations, which excluded trans women.
Organizer’s Remarks Ignite Backlash
Dismissing the broader acceptance of trans rights in beauty pageants, she stated her unwillingness to join what she termed the “glittery bandwagon of trans activism.”
Mirigliani’s comments were made after a 22-year-old trans woman, Rikkie Valerie Kollé was crowned Miss Netherlands on July 8 – a historic moment.
When asked about this groundbreaking event, Mirigliani expressed skepticism, remarking, “Lately, beauty pageants have been trying to make headlines by also using strategies that I think are a bit absurd.”
A Response to Requirements
However, these comments didn’t sit well with many, particularly those in the trans community.
In response, a group of trans men in Italy began challenging the beauty pageant. Using a technicality in Italy’s gender recognition process, they registered for the Miss Italy contest.
As it stands, the process to legally recognize one’s preferred gender and name in Italy is a long one.
Trans Activist Leading the Charge
Because of this, these trans men technically met all the competition’s criteria: They were above 18, held Italian nationality or citizenship, were still registered as “female” on official documents, and had been assigned female at birth.
Trans activist Federico Barbarossa took the first step, launching the campaign that encouraged trans men to apply for the pageant.
Speaking to the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, he explained that the intention behind this initiative was “to trigger, through a joke, a reflection on the absurdity of some logics out of time and out of the world.”
Trans Men Unite
Addressing the problematic representation of trans individuals in media, Barbarossa asserted, “People imagine us as three-headed monsters who could never aspire to win a beauty contest because even the media representation often brings forward narratives that fetishize our bodies.”
Barbarossa’s footsteps inspired numerous other trans men across Italy. Among these was Elia Bonci, another prominent trans activist.
Echoing Barbarossa’s sentiments in a separate interview with La Repubblica, Bonci stated, “I took courage, used my deadname, and signed up for Miss Italy.
Because fighting transphobia is intersectional, and even though I’m not a trans woman, I’ve decided to fight for their rights.”
Bonci shed light on the deeper cultural implications of the Miss Italy contest, expressing, “Miss Italy is not just a beauty contest, but it is part of the country’s cultural history. And excluding trans women automatically means excluding them from history. Pretend they don’t exist.”
The Miss Italy registration campaign unfurled against a backdrop of heightened anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment throughout Italy.
Far-Right Prime Minister
Last year the country saw the election of far-right Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, who rode to power on a staunchly Catholic platform opposing LGBTQ+ rights and the “gender ideology.”
The events around the Miss Italy pageant underscore the ongoing global conversation about inclusion and representation.
The actions taken by these trans men aim to shed light on broader societal issues and spark challenging conversations.
Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Nadezhda Manakhova