About 100 transgender men are entering the Miss Italy pageant to protest its exclusion of trans women.
Pageant organizer Patrizia Mirigliani has made clear that the competition is open only to contestants who were assigned female at birth, and that has angered trans activists. So trans man Federico Barbarossa decided to enter the pageant and encourage other trans men to do so.
“I was like, ‘Yeah, well, I was assigned female at birth, but they would reject me because I look like a boy, and they would consider me as a boy,’” he told NBC News this week. But he applied to be a contestant, using his deadname, and pageant officials sent him a confirmation email. He posted it on Instagram, and his local activist group, Mixed LGBTQIA+, shared it on social media as well and suggested that other trans men apply.
Barbarossa estimated that at least 100 have entered and said the pageant staff will have to go through every application. Perhaps Miriglani and her associates “will think better next time,” he told NBC, adding, “I like to think I’m a little part of Italy’s progress in this sense.” Some applicants have advanced to the next stage in the process, he said.
There’s a great deal of ignorance about trans people, he pointed out. “They would never think that a trans person might even aspire to win a beauty pageant, because we’re seen as this kind of, like, three-headed monster, and I think a part of it is that so many people have never seen trans women or trans men or trans people in general,” he said.
States around the U.S. are passing anti-LGBTQ+ and specifically anti-transgender laws, and meanwhile Italy has a homophobic and transphobic prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, who has condemned “the LGBT lobby” and “gender ideology.” Italy’s national government is more conservative now than at any time since World War II, Barbarossa said.
Miss Italy is not affiliated with the Miss Universe pageant; Miss Italy Universe is a separate competition, according to CNN. At least one trans woman has advanced to the Miss Universe pageant this year — Rikkie Kollé, who recently won Miss Netherlands, the first out trans woman to do so. Miss Universe has allowed trans women to compete since 2012, and in 2018, Angela Ponce of Spain became its first trans contestant. In the U.S., Kataluna Enriquez won Miss Nevada in 2021 and competed in Miss USA.