Flight attendant makes history as first trans woman to be crowned Miss Portugal

Side by side images of Marina Machete, a trans woman who is wearing a glittery nude coloured dress and sash and crown as she wins the Miss Portugal beauty competition

Marina Machete, a 28-year-old flight attendant, has just made history as the first trans woman to be crowned Miss Portugal in the beauty pageant’s history. 

Machete’s groundbreaking win came on Thursday (5 October) in Borba, in the southeastern Evora region of Portugal. 

She will now compete against another trans woman – Rikkie Valerie Kollé, who won Miss Netherlands in July – in El Salvador for the title of Miss Universe, marking a huge step forward for trans women at the global beauty pageant. 

Before the competition, Machete wrote on Instagram that she was “proud to be the first trans woman to compete for the title of Miss Universe Portugal”. 

“For many years I wasn’t eligible to compete, and now it’s such an honor to be a part of this incredible group of candidates,” she added. 

In another post shared after her historic win, the trans beauty queen shared her excitement to now be heading to the Miss Universe competition in November. 

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“We’re counting down to Miss Universe 2023,” Marina Machete wrote. “El Salvador, see you soon!” 

After her historic win in the Netherlands, Kollé revealed that she’d been bombarded with hate online since the competition. She told Newsweek that she’d received death threats after winning Miss Netherlands among other “terrible” messages. 

But she said the hate is “only lifting [her] up” because she has a “bigger platform” to spread her messages of love, empowerment and LGBTQ+ inclusivity. 

“The only thing I want to say to the haters is ‘thank you’, because you’re giving me a bigger platform than I can ever imagine,” she said. 

Marina Machete and Rikkie Valerie Kollé both follow in the footsteps of Spain’s Angela Ponce, who became the first trans woman to compete in the global Miss Universe pageant in 2018. 

Although she didn’t advance to the Miss Universe finals, Ponce won the hearts of people worldwide and carved a path for other trans women at the renowned competition. 

During the global telecast of the show, Ponce hoped her presence on the stage could create a brighter future where people can “live in a world of equality for everyone” and understand that everyone is human. 

“If I can give that to the world, I don’t need to win Miss Universe, I only need to be here,” she said.