The Miss Universe pageant, one of the most prestigious and popular beauty contests in the world, will witness a historic moment this year as two trans women will be among the 90 contestants vying for the crown in November.
Meet Marina Machete and Rikkie Valerie Kollé
Marina Machete, 28, is the first trans woman to win Miss Portugal, and Rikkie Valerie Kollé, 22, is the first trans woman to be crowned Miss Netherlands. Both of them have made history in their respective countries and are now ready to represent them on the global stage.
Machete, a flight attendant, thanked her supporters after winning the title on Oct. 5. She said in a video shared by Miss Universe Portugal on Instagram: “To all of you watching, I just want to say that, just like the universe, your possibilities in life are limitless.”
Kollé, a model, expressed her joy after securing the title in July. She wrote on her Instagram account: “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.”
Their journey of transition and empowerment
Both Machete and Kollé have been open about their journey of transition and empowerment. They have faced challenges and discrimination along the way, but they have also received support and acceptance from their families and friends.
Machete said she knew she was a girl since she was four years old. She started her transition at 16 and underwent gender confirmation surgery at 21. She said she was proud to be the first trans woman to compete for Miss Portugal and hoped to inspire others to follow their dreams.
Kollé said she realized she was different from other boys when she was eight years old. She started her transition at 10 and underwent gender confirmation surgery in January this year. She said she felt a sense of pride in how far she had come and wanted to destigmatize and normalize being trans.
Their goals and aspirations
Both Machete and Kollé have ambitious goals and aspirations for themselves and for the trans community. They want to use their platform as beauty queens to raise awareness and advocate for equality and diversity.
Machete said she wanted to be a role model for young people who are struggling with their identity and self-esteem. She said she wanted to show them that they can achieve anything they set their minds to.
Kollé said she wanted to be a voice for the trans community and for other marginalized groups. She said she wanted to show the world that beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, colors, and genders.
Their chances of winning Miss Universe
Miss Universe has been accepting trans contestants since 2012, after a controversy involving Jenna Talackova, a Canadian trans woman who was initially disqualified from competing in Miss Universe Canada. Talackova challenged the decision and eventually won the right to participate. She did not win the title, but she made history as the first openly trans contestant in Miss Universe.
Since then, only a few trans women have competed in Miss Universe, such as Angela Ponce from Spain in 2018 and Swe Zin Htet from Myanmar in 2019. None of them have made it to the top 20 finalists.
This year, Machete and Kollé will have another chance to break the glass ceiling and make history as the first trans women to win Miss Universe. They will face tough competition from other talented and beautiful contestants from around the world, but they are confident and optimistic about their chances.
They both said they were not afraid of any backlash or criticism from those who do not agree with their participation. They said they respected everyone’s opinions, but they also asked for respect for theirs. They said they were proud of who they are and what they have accomplished.
They also said they were excited and honored to represent their countries and cultures at Miss Universe. They said they were looking forward to meeting other contestants and learning from them. They said they were ready to show their best selves and have fun.
The Miss Universe pageant will take place on Nov. 29 in Eilat, Israel. It will be broadcast live on Fox in the United States and on other channels around the world.