A sponsor of the Miss Italia beauty pageant has ruled out the possibility of transgender contestants being allowed to compete, saying competitors “must be female by birth.”
The rule, which comes shortly after the Netherlands crowned its first transgender winner of a similar beauty pageant, contrasts with other beauty events seeking to generate media attention by including non-traditional contestants, according to Miss Italy’s official sponsor Patrizia Mirigliani.
“Lately, beauty pageants have been trying to make the news by also using strategies that I think are a bit absurd.” Mirigliani, the daughter of late Miss Italia founder Enzo Mirigliani, told Radio Cusano this week, Newsweek reported. TV personality Mirigliani added: “Since it was established, my competence has provided in its regulations the clarification according to which one must be a woman by birth.”
He further explained that the decades-old rules of Miss Italia took into account that “beauty could change” and so? “men could become women.”
A 2016 survey of 23 countries by the UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute suggested that Italians generally have similar support for transgender rights compared to most other Western nations. Italy was among the 21 countries surveyed that “supportive policies that prohibit discrimination against transgender people.”
The poll also rated Italy 57 out of 100 on a scale that determines general support for transgender issues. Spain had the highest score with 74, while Russia ranked last with 41.
Mirigliani’s statement follows the victory of transgender model Rikkie Valerie Kolle, 22, in the Miss Netherlands beauty pageant earlier this month. Throughout the competition, Kolle used the platform to campaign for transgender rights and to facilitate access to gender-affirming healthcare options for people in her country.
Kolle will next represent the Netherlands at the Miss Universe pageant in El Salvador in December, following Spain’s Ángela Ponce, who became the first trans competitor at the event in 2018.
The issue, which mirrors a similar one involving transgender competitors in sports, has sparked an online backlash directed at Kolle. “They see us as monsters, and my daily DMs are full of people wishing me dead.” she told Newsweek earlier this month. “Wishing me dead and telling me to kill myself, those things are terrible to write, but at the same time they just cheer me up because I get a bigger platform than I could ever dream of.”