Trans men enter Miss Italy contest to protest anti-trans ‘women from birth’ rule

Federico Barbarossa

Trans men are protesting against Miss Italy’s ban on trans women taking part by entering the competition themselves. 

The protest is in response to comments made by the beauty contest’s patron, Patrizia Mirigliani, who spoke of the ban early this month, saying only “women from birth” would be eligible to participate in this year’s event.

Mirigliani was reacting to the news that 22-year-old Rikkie Valerie Kollé was crowned Miss Netherlands on 8 July, making her the first trans woman to take home the title. 

The patron described it as “absurd” that trans women were being allowed to compete in beauty contests and Miss Italy would not join the “glittery bandwagon of trans activism”. 

In protest against the exclusionary stance, trans men across Italy began to sign up to enter, highlighting the issues posed by the rules. One of those, trans activist Federico Barbarossa, told Italian newspaper la Repubblica: “When I heard about the absurd regulation, it came spontaneously to me. I was assigned to the female gender at birth, but I’ve always felt like a boy. 

“We hope that the gesture will arouse the media clamour needed to put these issues back at the centre, and that many other ‘women at birth’ register en masse for the competition to make fun of these positions out of time, above Italian law.

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“They would reject me because I’m a boy and I look like a boy, while if a trans girl registers, she is rejected because she is not considered a woman: what’s the point, then?”

Other trans men quickly followed Barbarossa’s example. 

Elia Bonci, who also spoke to la Repubblica, said: “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.”

He added that the competition is not just a beauty contest but part of Italy’s cultural history. 

“Excluding trans women automatically means excluding them from history, [pretending] they don’t exist.”

Sharing a post on Instagram announcing his registration, Bonci wrote that it’s “amazing how transphobic and trans-exclusive regulation is somehow rather pleasantly inclusive for trans men”.

Addressing the “women from birth” comment, Bonci said the statement “is not clear, and because it is “confused between birth-based sex, gender identity, and everything transgender related”, it still allowed female-born trans men to sign up.

He continued: “For this reason, I invite all trans kids to submit their candidacy. I really want to see the face of who will have to examine the demands when they find themselves in front of these handsome males.

“The era in which you could be transphobic ars*holes without any consequence is over.”

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