Big news in the pageant world: South Africa’s national beauty pageant has finally let trans women compete in it. “Trans women are eligible to enter the Miss South Africa pageant,” its organizing body announced.
There’s a catch, though. Should the contestant be crowned and move on to the international pageants (like the big four, otherwise known as Miss Universe, Miss International, Miss World, and Miss Earth), she will need to “be in possession of a valid South African ID document reflecting that their amended sex is female.”
The pageant’s applications opened two days ago, and its CEO posted a video concerning frequently asked questions and new eligibility requirements. With beauty standard-defying Zozibini Tunzi winning Miss Universe just in 2019, we’re excited to see what the next Miss South Africa has in store.
This isn’t the only notable show of trans acceptance within the pageant circuit this year. Señorita Panama, Panama’s national beauty pageant, also announced that it was opening up its competition for trans women on Mar. 2. However, on Feb. 26, a court ruled that Miss United States, which is different from Miss America and Miss USA (the latter being the only pageant affiliated with Miss Universe), was allowed to ban trans women from joining the competition.
ICYDK, Miss Universe itself lifted its ban on trans competitors in 2012, but the first out trans woman competitor came years later when Angela Ponce, representing Spain, walked the stage in 2018.
Here, the matter of allowing trans women in the traditional beauty pageants is still a hot button issue. Despite pageants being a huge part of queer culture here—and many international trans pageant queens are from the country—Binibining Pilipinas hasn’t made a formal announcement whether or not it would hold trans women eligible to compete. Former Miss Universes Catriona Gray and Pia Wurtzbach have both expressed support for it, while Miss Universe Philippines Maxine Medina has said that trans women should stick to trans-only pageants. After appearing to be against trans women in pageants, Miss International Queen 2012 Kevin Balot has remarked that she would be happy to have a “trans sister” in pageants.