Which Miss Universe 2023 contestants are transgenders? Exploring their journey into the competition

Miss Universe 2023 in El Salvador is set to make history with transgender inclusion, featuring Miss Portugal and Miss Netherlands. Here's everything you need to know about them.

Updated on Nov 19, 2023   |  08:57 AM IST  |  137.6K
Miss Universe 2023 contestants (Instagram)

Key Highlight

The 72nd Miss Universe pageant, happening in El Salvador, is making headlines for breaking new ground in beauty pageantry. This year, the competition welcomes two transgender contestants, Miss Portugal Marina Machete and Miss Netherlands Rikkie Kolle, marking a historic moment in the global pageant's history. If either of these two transwomen emerges victorious, they will be the first to don the prestigious Miss Universe crown.

Miss Universe 2023: Journey of Rikkie Kollé into the competition

Rikkie Kollé, a 22-year-old model and LGBTQIA+ rights activist, secured the title of Miss Netherlands in July, triumphing over nine other finalists. She follows in the footsteps of Angela Ponce, who represented Spain in 2018 as the first transgender contestant in Miss Universe.

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Kollé, known for her appearance on Holland's Next Top Model, is not just a model but a passionate advocate for equality. In a video for the Voices for Change campaign, she shared her commitment to fighting against bullying, a challenge she faced due to her gender identity. Before becoming Miss Netherlands, Kollé candidly spoke about her transgender journey, emphasizing the importance of self-empowerment.

In a video, she expressed, “Miss Universe asked us to describe ourselves in one word. The word I’m choosing is ‘victory,’ because as a little boy, I conquered all the things that came through my path — and look at me now, standing here as a strong, empowering, and confident trans woman.”

Miss Universe 2023: Journey of Marina Machete into the competition

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Marina Machete, a 28-year-old flight attendant, made history by winning the 2023 Miss Portugal competition in October. Her victory not only made her the representative for her country but also the first transgender contestant to achieve this in Portugal. In her bio, she reflects on her proudest moments, highlighting the challenges she faced with courage and strength. Machete wrote in her bio, “I'm most proud of the challenges I overcame with courage and strength. Leading me to develop humanity and kindness towards others in my life.”

Machete shared her journey in a video on the Portuguese pageant’s YouTube channel, emphasizing the power of love in overcoming obstacles: “As a trans woman, I’ve been through many obstacles along the way but fortunately and especially with my family, love proved to be stronger than ignorance.”

Both Kollé and Machete use their social media platforms to spread messages of encouragement and support to the global transgender community.


The Miss Universe pageant, being streamed at 8 pm ET in English on The Roku Channel and in Spanish by Telemundo, witnessed an exclusive all-female hosting team for the first time. Former Miss Universe 2012 Olivia Culpo and TV personality Jeannie Mai take on hosting duties alongside Maria Menounos.

The inclusion of transgender contestants not only adds a new chapter to the Miss Universe legacy but also contributes to a broader celebration of diversity and empowerment. The stories of Kollé and Machete exemplify resilience and inspire others around the world.

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Where is the final Miss Universe 2023?
The finals of Miss Universe 2023 is held in José Adolfo Pineda Arena in San Salvador, El Salvador.

Who is hosting Miss Universe?
Olivia Culpo and Jeannie Mai Jenkins are hosting the event.

When is Miss universe 2023 going to be held?
Miss Universe 2023 is being held on November 19, 2023.

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