of the stranger news stories of 2001 concerns Miss France
2001, Mlle Elodie Gossuin. This 20 year old French
student nurse and beauty queen briefly became the most famous
transsexual woman since Dana
International won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1998 when
it was reported by an internet newspaper that she might in fact be
Elodie Gossuin won the regional Miss Picardie beauty
queen pageant, held at St Quentin on 4 November 2000. This
qualified her for the Miss
France 2001 competition to held in Monaco, which she in
turn duly won on 9 December 2000 - in turn qualifying her for
the Miss Universe 2001 contest.
after the Miss France 2001 pageant, Paris
Match magazine published the following article
which should have been made compulsory reading for all those who
subsequently doubted her "womanhood". I
apologise for all the mistakes I have undoubtedly made in
translation from the original French.
19 years / 1m 78cm )
bathes in happiness
television viewers saw the election of the prettiest girl of
France. The first winner of the third millennium, the
beauty has achieved a dream. Paris Match has an excusive
1.78 metres of pure happiness: Miss Picardy
has been voted Miss France. A star was born.
Elodie in the land of her dreams. With the
arm-band of Miss France, the young woman also has that of Miss Picardie.
Morning breakfast on the terrace of the
Maeterlinck Palace in Nice. The chambermaid
waits for her autograph. A new life starts...
The very new Miss France contemplates herself
in the mirror and makes an assessment of her
personality: "I'm modest," she says
"obsessive, intoxicated, artless, sociable and
calm and happy: shortly after her election, Elodie Gossuin
enjoys her triumph... wearing jeans and tennis shoes. The
jury and the millions of television viewers elected the young
woman for her bright beauty, but also for her femininity and
simplicity. One can only agree with their choice: Miss
France 2001 radiates like a star. A little dazzled
perhaps, by her success. "I don’t know what I have more
of than the others" she acknowledges "At most I hoped
to placed among the twelve finalists." It was a
friend who pushed Elodie to enter her first beauty contest.
Elected Lily of the valley of Compiegne, then Miss Picardie in
November, this 20 year old student nurse beat at the post
Stéphanie Faby, Miss Corsican, 18 years, the only serious
competitor to Elodie. The runners up were: Navy Clouet
(Miss Poitou-Charentes, 23 years), Nawal Benhlal (Miss Lyon, 20
years) and Elects Duboquet (Miss Flanders, 18 years).
Like a relay, Sonia Rolland, Miss France 2000,
places her crown on the head of Elodie Gossuin.
joy, she cries under her crown: "I didn't know any
more who I was, where I was, or how I won "
the news of her win, Miss France 2001 raises her eyes to
the sky... and melts in to tears. This scintillating
crown which Elodie Gossuin has dreamed of. Her
youthful style has allured the members of the jury -
under the direction of Alain Delon - the Olympic
champion David Douillet, Robert Sabatier of the Goncourt
Academy, the football champion Frank Leboeuf, T.F.1
presenter Jean-Pierre Pernaut, the figure skating couple
Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizerat, two former Miss
France, Peggy Zlotkowski (1989) and Patricia Spehar
(1997), and Vladimir Cosma, who composed the music for
the paradise, the hell starts.
The one day old queen has only two hours to dream of
Abdel and his promise of marriage. With the
alarm clock the swirl will start.
o'clock in the morning at the Maeterlinck Palace, after
the official reception dinner and an insane night of
celebrating, the new Cinderella finally collapsed,
exhausted, on the bed in her suite. "I'm
living a dream," she explains to our reporters who
come to wake her at 7 am. "I am in this
hotel, I see this scarf Miss France 2001 and I'm in a
fairy tale. I do not know how I will manage the
future. I am already afraid of notoriety" In
facing the challenges of the following days,
Elodie knows that it can count on her close relations:
her mother, Lysiane, who came to join her in Monaco; her
father-in-law, Domenica; her sister, Amélie, 14 years;
and her friends in of Trosly-Breuil, the Picardy village
where she lives. "I do not know anybody who
doesn't get along with her", confesses Abdel, 22
years old, and her boyfriend for three years. They're
engaged? Wow! The heart of Elodie, the most
beautiful girl in France, is no longer free to be won.
Elodie in the arms of her mother, Lysiane, an
Accountant, and of her father-in-law, Domenica,
a Technical Director in electronics. She had not
seen them for three weeks.
envisages that the next year she will resume her nursing
studies. "After living in luxury hotels, it's
likely I will find strange living on carrots at the
hospital", she confides
the fairy tale, Cinderella stops dancing at
midnight For Elodie, the marathon of glory and
beauty calmed down at 4.30 in the morning, when she
traveled with a presidential escort to the
Pelléas and Mélisande Suite at the Maeterlinck in
Nice. Its only fifteen minutes along the low
cornice in a city overrun by a European
Summit. An almost invisible procession, the
Riviera at night is well controlled. And that
evening, the only prince available, Albert of Monaco,
than two hours of sleep. At 7 am, the make-up girl and
hairdresser arrive, brush and paintbrushes in
hand. Hardly enough time to swallow some breakfast
on the large terrace in front of the blue of the
Mediterranean. Not even a Jacuzzi.
year, I hope to resume my nursing studies"
said Elodie Gossuin "I like really the job.
That said, if I eat my meals every day in de luxe
hotels, it will be strange to find myself back to eating
carrots ever day at the hospital!" A clever child,
born in Rheims, December 15, 1980, Sagittarius, Elodie
always wanted to be the first in everything. "She
wants to be successful in everthing that she
undertakes", declares Lysiane, her mother. After
two years of medicine, Elodie became a nurse. She likes
the contact with the patients. She would like to devote
herself to Pediatrics.
was 3 years old when her father separated from her mom,
an accountant. Lysiane remade her life with Domenica, an
electronics engineer. Elodie calls Domenica
"Dad". He did not raise her like the two
other children of the couple, Amélie and Jérémie,
twins 14 year old. All live in a charming house built
seven years ago in Trosly-Breuil in Oise, a quiet
village of 2000 people.
Elodie's room the walls are papered of yellow, as if the
teenager had always wanted to live close to the
sun. In her library are the novels of Mary Higgins
Clark and the books on medicine. On the parquet floor
steps can be heard, for four years she did ballet
dancing. A big bed. And the poodle Gipsy, which
accompanies his mistress in her strolls on horseback in
the Forest of Compiègne, five minutes on foot from
Trosly-Breuil. A painting shows angels looking at
the clouds; it is Elodie in wonderland.
biggest supporter is Abdel, her boy friend whom she she
met at medical college. They have been together three
years. From Montreal to Monaco, during the
preparation for the competition, they spoke to each
other every day.
have believed in her since the beginning," said
Abdel. "She is wonderful. I do not know
anybody who doesn't get along with her. It will be
hard not to see her as often as I would like. But one
year, that passes quickly... " They had
planned to go on holiday to Morocco this summer.
"We will put that back to next year", he adds.
Corsican!", " Picardie!". It seems
like a call of ancient military regiments. With
the lights down, the monitor retransmits the images of
the vote is emphasised. With eyes still wet with
disappointment, the beauty queens do not miss a moment
of it. On stage, there remains but two in the
running. Two pearls of beauty, simplicity and
elegance. One brown, Miss Corsican, the other blonde,
Miss Picardie. Continental or Island? North or South of
France, everyone waits with baited breath. On a
drum roll, which announces the most critical moments,
Jean-Pierre Foucault holds the public breathless. In
their identical white lace dresses, the young ladies
brace themselves and support themselves, with frozen
smiles and large wide eyes. "A terrible moment
", Elodie later says. On the fifth
floor of the brightly lit Grimaldi Forum in Monaco, the
Room of the Princes is in hushed. Whispered, one hears
the last forecasts of the 41 contestants. "It will
be Corsican!", "No, Picardie!".
Finally the verdict comes. Foucault announces "Elodie
Gossuin". Miss Picardie briefly hesitates.
She remembers the election of Miss France 1989 with its
well-known of the collection of howlers, and Peggy
Zlotkowski collapsing from shock at the feet of Julien
Lepers. But Elodie is called again. The face initially
tightens, almost convulses, then the pressure slackens
in to tears of happiness and relief. "I did not
know any more what I had to do, who was which, nor even
how I was called!" remembers the pretty
blonde. In a frantic rush, the beauty queens, good
sports, get ready for the traditional handing-over of
the crown. Each one wants to be close to the new
Miss France, Year 2001, who already appears
the end of room, Lysiane and Domenica, (the
engineering manager who installed the system of
video-surveillance of at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco)
can't see much. It's been forty eight years since
their region gained the title. They savor the victory
with their daughter Amelie, and a dozen good friends
with the song, immortalized by Yves Montand: "That
spoke about Picardie/And about the pink roses whom one
finds over there/Both of us in love together/We danced
on the pink roses of this time." Regrets, maybe
other contestants will have it. Remorse, certainly
not. They worked at a hellish rate. Until the day
before the contest. All problems left outside, they
rehearse the stages of the big evening to a medley merry
written by Vladimir Cosma. "I shall never get it
right", cries the Norman, sitting at the sound
system. "On Saturday, it's the election, and I will
confuse all the choreographies. It's certain, I'm going
to get it all wrong... " Every day, a
different Beauty queen breaks-down, while the one from
the day re-find's her smile. Three weeks without seeing
the family. That begins to make length. "I believe
that one quite looks forward to returning home. It's
hard. Our parents begin to miss us and one doesn't
hold any more up", confided the beauty queen Miss
Orléanais on the way back to the Hotel Mirabeau, after
eleven hours of rehearsal.
wear of a red dress and its blue apron in
the garden of the family home. Elodie is already
a small timid girl.
Crucial for a girl of good education,
learning horsemanship. Age 18 years.
evening. The credits scroll across the TV screens. It is
not yet the end of the adventure for Miss France.
In the room, she sees Amélie, her small sister. Tears
in her eyes, Elodie will have to bear her troubles
patiently before holding her in her arms. The organisers
break her away with the objective of taking her to see
the photographers n the first floor of the Forum. The
room is ready for the official reception dinner,
organized by the Committee. Champagne! One
thousand five hundred people settle: the beauty queens
find family and friends who have come from everywhere
for the event. On a big screen, the contest is rerun.
Some can not find words: "I am disappointed not to
be in the last twelve. My parents, my brother and my
boyfriend paid 1000 francs for their tickets, plus
transport, plus the hotel, all that to see me for two
minutes on stage", confides Miss Artois-Hainaut,
with tears in her eyes. For others, it is
euphoria: "I'm so happy! I finally will be
able to return at home! enthuses Miss Rhone-Alps
radiantly. "I would not have liked to be Miss
France. Already, my boyfriend left me three
days before my departure after we were together for two
years, just because I appeared in the
contest." Some beauty queens relax and find a
devilish naturalness which they avoided before.
"During the pre-selection, I immediately understood
that I was toast!" exclaims Miss Gascogne. "I
arrived in front of the jury, I did not even have time
to present myself, they asked me a question. And hop!
Thank you, goodbye!" Another memory in the
already well filled life of this charming businesswoman
who for two years has imported pieces of furniture from
Bali with her partner, to resell at three stores they
the top table drawn up in the center of the room,
Genevieve of Fontenay, President of the Miss France
Committee presides. Alain Delon, the President of the
Jury, and the eleven other voters, among whom are
Jean-Pierre Pernaut, Vladimir Cosma, Robert Sabatier,
David Douillet, Frank Leboeuf... Star among the stars,
Elodie did not dare yet to believe it all yet. Too
much modest to think she was the most important
guest. At age three years, she fell and gained a
pretty scar on her face. More beautiful than a
Alain Delon, President of the Jury, would have
perhaps preferred Miss Corsican. He nevertheless
seems satisfied to have to sit between Miss France 2001
and Miss France 2000 at the official reception
Age 4 years, she rocks her doll.
Age 8 years, she smiles timidly.
Age 18 years, happy, she starts
win of the Miss France 2001 pageant received huge publicity in
France. The win also qualified her to enter
the Miss Universe 2001 pageant, to be on held on the 11th May 2001 in
Puerto Rico. However just before the Miss Universe contest
began, newspapers worldwide published articles suggesting that she was
actually a male transvestite, or a post-operative transsexual.
point for these articles can be traced
back to 8 January 2001 when the French language internet
newspaper L'Examineur published
the following report
(again I apologise for all errors in my translation):
France 2001 may be a man
Gossuin, Miss France 2001, could actually be called Nicolas
* This seems to be a mistake as the contest was actually held in
Elodie Gossuin, Miss France 2001
Michou, the king of the Parisian nights
the Mareva Galanter affair, which charged the Steering
Committee with rigging the election of Miss France
because of an obscure relationship between the 1999
winner and Genevieve of Fontenay, there now comes the
Nicolas Levanneur affair, this being perhaps the legal
name of Elodie Gossuin, Miss France 2001.
could have believed that the graceful body of Miss
France 2001 was actually that of a man? Who didn't
feel enthralled by these harmonious curves, these pure
features and this angelic smile? They are however
that of a 27 year old young man, Nicolas Levanneur,
dancer in a transvestite cabaret in Paris, which
certainly did not imagine that he would win the bet that
his friends set him over drinks late one night in 1999:
to become the new Miss France.
of Picardy origin, entered the Miss Picardie contest in
the course of January* 2000, which he won with
ease. After that events carry him away and
everything happens very fast. "The
hardest part", says Nicolas, "is to disguise
my voice; I become a woman when I slip on clothes of a
woman, it is my trade and I have practised it for seven
years. But my female voice requires permanent
his voice doesn't not betray him and he
simulates emotion when he receives the victory
crown from the hands of our national Alain Delon, in
front of millions of television viewers: "I
even pretended to begin to faint to reinforce the
credibility of the character, even though I knew that my
bet was won."
Genevieve of Fontenay remains silent, Michou, owner of
the famous Transvestite Cabaret At Michou,
mischievously hopes to see hundreds of unexpected new
customers arriving. "This business is
amazingly good for us. We are closed until
March and Nicolas doesn't work here now, but he
knows that my doors are wide open for him to carry on at
the review." Who said that Beauty Queens were
bad at assuring their future?
Miss Universe 2001 Pageant
After L'Examineur first published the story in early January
2001, it only slowly spread around the Internet before picking up steam
in April when Puerto Rican papers began questioning Gossuin's
gender. According to E!, "The local [Puerto Rican]
tabloids pointed out with glee that Gossuin had unusually large hands
and her forehead sported a scar - supposedly telltale signs that the
contestant had undergone a sex-change operation." The New
York Daily News published the story on 24th April and it was
then immediately picked up by all the major news agencies, which in turn fed
the worlds media with "Miss France is a man!", this became
headline news from Britain to Japan to Russia to South Africa within
official Miss Universe 2001 picture
Gossuin arrived in Puerto Rico on Monday, 23 April to prepare
for the pageant. Unfortunately the initial reaction of the
Miss Universe organisers to Elodie's arrival wasn't very
helpful in refuting the "Miss France is a man"
allegation. Reporters were informally told by officials that Miss Gossuin was
"due to be interrogated" [an extra-ordinary term to have used] about whether she was a
transsexual or a transvestite.
Hilliard McMillan, a spokesman for Miss Universe, said "At the
moment we're treating her as a normal delegate" adding that a
doctor was being called in to examine Mlle Gossuin. "Our
regulations say that all delegates must be natural-born
females. If she does turn out to be a man, we'll put her
on the first plane back to France. ... She is
going through registration and being fitted for a gown and
swimsuit. There will be some determination. Wardrobe
ladies have instructions to report immediately." Ms
McMillan also said that the organizers hadn't yet been able to
put the question of her sex to Gossuin or her handlers because
"they've been travelling".
"close inspection" during swimsuit and ball gown fittings
apparently left most officials convinced. Stylists declared that
if Elodie were a man there was no way she could have hid it - "She
was totally at ease in all her bathing suits," explained Karyl
Gonzales, one of the pageant's wardrobe stylists, "[She had] a body
to die for."
next day, Tuesday, Ms McMillan stated: "So far, all signs point to the
fact that she's a female. She has a birth certificate that says
she is a woman and she is one of the most stunning women I've ever seen.
She's very feminine." .
issue was finally officially resolved when the officials decided to
impose upon Elodie a rule which was supposed to go in to effect for the
next contest, in 2002. A few years earlier the Miss Universe
officials had learnt that a male-to-female transsexual had won a
female beauty contest in Asia, they decided to change a rule that
required contestants be a 'female citizen' of their countries to also
require them to be a 'natural born woman'. Miss Gossuin duly
signed a declaration that she was a French woman and 'I have
never been a man'.
few hours later, Hilliard McMillan finally dismissed the transsexual
allegation as "just a nasty rumour", she said that if there was a problem
it would have been detected in the swimsuit fitting. "I have
just seen her and she is beautiful, absolutely stunning, and she is in
fact a female. ... We have not needed to do any medical tests
or anything like that - she is definitely a woman. .... She is
what she says she is. There is no doubt. She's gorgeous and
everything is going ahead as planned."
broke her own self-imposed silence on the Wednesday, she was adamant in
her denial of the allegations stating, "Absolutely not! ....
Because the rumours are so unfounded, I will move ahead and have a great
time." Also on the Wednesday Frederic Royer, editor of L'Examineur
admitted that the original story was intended as a satirical joke and he
could not believe that it had been taken so seriously.
ordeal finally over, Elodie competed in the main Miss Universe
Pageant on 11th of May, reaching the evening gown competition
as one of the top ten finalists.
Gossuin, Miss France 2001, poses in her official Bluepoint Swim
swimwear before the annual swimsuit poster photo shoot at the
Westin Rio Mar Beach Hotel & Resort in Puerto Rico on April
does seem rather unlikely that Elodie Gossuin and the Miss Universe organising
committee were really completely unaware of the L'Examineur
report until just before the pageant prelimaries began in late April
2001. Indeed, L'Examineur does imply (for what little it
may be worth) that Elodie must have known of their article by
mid-March. The suspicion has to be that the organisers of Miss
Universe, and perhaps Elodie herself, didn't take the rumours seriously
enough, or they may have been operating on an "any publicity is
good publicity" basis until it all got completely out of
hand. Apparently at one point some of the other beauty queens got
very jealous about all the publicity Miss France was
the news agencies picked up on the transsexual story it would have been
easy for Elodie, or the organisers of the Miss France or Miss
Universe pageants, to have completely killed the story with a firm
denial backed by a few documents (birth certificate, passport) and some
childhood photos such as Paris Match published in two articles,
the first of which is translated above, a link to the second is here.
Paris Match also saw her Birth Certificate which was marked "Elodie,
Nadia, Roselyne Gossuin" and "Born of female sex". It was dated two days after her birth on 15 December
the sex of Miss France was really in any doubt, the Miss Universe organisers
could have approached her for evidence that she was a "natural born
woman" before she arrived in Puerto Rico for the pageant on Monday
23 April. Instead, just as the pageant preliminaries began, the
story exploded in to a major news item that was run by most of the
worlds TV and press, and media interest in Elodie reached astonishing
heights. The Miss Universe organisers may not have been
totally unhappy with this outcome, and the media were also perhaps happy
to have a good, juicy, gossip story to fill their pages and airtime, no
matter how unlikely it might be.
This photo of the elusive Nicolas Levanneur appeared in some media
reports. With drawn-on
eyebrows there would be a resemblance to Elodie.
The core of the original L'Examineur story was an
unsupported claim that Elodie Gossuin was actually the female persona of
a 27 year old male transvestite born Nicolas Levanneur.
of M. Levanneur were published
by L'Examineur, only that of the owner of the small Chez Michou cabaret
in Paris. The name was
eventually linked by the French media to a dancer who
briefly worked at the cabaret, and a picture appeared that supposedly showed Nicolas Levanneur, age 27. The
appearance of the person in the photo is that of an attractive
young woman, arguably it could show a transgendered woman on hormone therapy
and perhaps after surgery.
organisation managed to contact Nicholas - leaving the strong
possibility that he didn't exist, and the very slight possibility that
he was now Elodie. The
story was also very implausible
given the physically revealing nature of beauty contests back-stage. For a man with a penis to
escape detection in at least three major beauty pageants stretched all credibility. This major problem was
avoided in some later media reports by suggesting that Elodie was a
post-operative male-to-female transsexual woman.
physical evidence that Elodie was a transvestite male, or
slightly more plausibly a post-operative male-to-female
transsexual seems to have been based on a few items of physical
about 5' 10", Elodie is tall for a woman
has quite large hands and feet (size 8 UK)
In some pictures
appears to be much older than her claimed 19 years
has facial scars which could be evidence of extensive plastic
surgery for facial feminisation.
points are all minor, circumstantial and inclusive. Even
in total they are hardly serious evidence of transsexuality, let
alone convincing proof. Many beauty queens and models are
exceptionally tall, many women have large hands, and as Miss
Brazil noted, many of the girls in the Miss Universe
contest had been surgically "enhanced", including
herself 17 times! Elodie also, and correctly, pointed out
that the contestants in the Miss France Pageant are
forbidden to have had any cosmetic surgery or liposuction.
If this hadn't been the case she would have had the scar(s) near
her eyebrows - which was caused by a childhood accident -
removed. She stated, "You have to be completely
also freely admitted that she was in fact now 20 years old, her
birthday being just a week after the Miss France
contest. At worse, some photos show an unusual amount of
wrinkles and dry skin problems for someone of her youthful age.
Overall, given the complete lack of real evidence, the fact
that the world press widely reported the story in various forms is quite
astonishing. It's also amazing unless you subscribe to the opinion
'all publicity is good publicity' that the press and the Miss
Universe organisers actually gave the story some credence, initially
at least. Understandably this all eventually became very upsetting for
the 20 year old Miss Gossuin - regardless of whether she may have
colluded in the early stages.
whole "Miss France is a Man!" affair was effectively a media
invention which most affected the unfortunate victim, Miss Gossuin.
However, the sensationalist way in which the story was presented casts a
worrying light on how transsexual women are still perceived by the press
and public. As Dana International
has also shown in recent years, we are still a long way away from
a beautiful transsexual women simply being regarded as a beautiful
woman, at least in the so called "western" world.
Mlle Elodie is far from being the first woman who at some time
has experienced the misfortune of being alleged, almost certainly
falsely, of being a transsexual. For example American
Davidson has endured gossip
about her having being a man since the mid-1980's, as has another
More recently, the young singer
Ciara Harris has
been the target of much speculation that she is a transsexual woman,
apparently due to confusion with a transsexual of the same name and her
Umemiya is a top model and actress in Japan. Her rumoured
AIS condition was disproved when
she gave birth to a daughter in 2002.
While such allegations can usually be laughed off,
or convincingly denied with more or less ease (e.g. getting
pregnant!), understandably when rumours persist the woman in
question is rarely willing to submit to indignity of the thorough
medical examinations and genetic testing needed in order to
disprove them. There is also the possibility that indicators
and signs that are mistaken as evidence of transsexuality may in
fact be caused by some other medical disorder (e.g. Androgen
Insensitivity Syndrome), which the woman may be nearly as
uncomfortable in admitting to.
Of course occasionally the press gets the story about right. In
Britain, Caroline Cossey, April
Larissa Summers are examples of models
revealed by the press as being male-to-female transsexuals,
thereby greatly damaging their careers and hopes for future.
An interesting contrast to the struggles of these
western trangendered women is presented by South Korean models Ha Ri-Su and Alicia
Liu. After being 'outed', both have actually gone on to far
Elodie with twins Jules and Rose.
On 21 December 2007 Elodie gave birth to twins Jules and Rose. The
father is her partner, Bertrand Lachériein.
Elodie had a wonderful official website at http://www.elodiegossuin.net
for many years - in the French language but with lots of pictures!
Unfortunately it went off-line in 2013.
Elodie's wiki entry is
I've read through this page 15 years after it was first written, and it seems extraordinarily dated.
model Chen Lili was accepted for the Miss Universe China contest as
an "unmarried healthy female between 18 to 27 years old".
However the next day it was 'clarified' that female meant "natural
female", and Chen was not eligible being transsexual.
Whilst Elodie was
not a transsexual, she forced the major beauty pageants
(particularly the so-called Big 4: Miss World, Miss Universe. Miss
International and Miss Earth) to
briefly consider the possibility that a small number of their contestants
genetically XX (e.g. women with AIS), or born a cis women
(i.e. they were trangender). But like in sport,
they struggled to define who was eligible to enter a "Miss"
beauty pageant - if only to stop some competitions degenerating in to a
farce due to the participation of clearly "male" entrants.
In the end, nothing happened for a decade.
The problem reached a crisis point in 2012 when Jenna Talackova
(age 23) registered for
Miss Universe Canada 2012 and was accepted. However someone informed the organisers that
Jenna was transgender, which was technically correct as her original
birth certificate said that she was "Male". She transitioned
age 14 and had sex-reassignment surgery age 19, but Canada had not
at the time passed any legislation that made transwomen legally "Female".
the Big 4 pageants at the time had variations of a rule that "the contestant must
be a natural born woman". Transgender woman
Chen Lili had previously entered Miss Universe China 2004, her
entry was initially accepted but later rejected on the grounds that she
was not a "natural female". Donald Trump (later elected President
of the USA) personally intervened to stop the same happening to Jenna.
and finished in the top 12 when the pageant was held in May 2012.
Miss Belgium 2016 contestant
Céline Van Den Bossche. Local newspapers supported the
hairdresser, she was only out'ed after the contest.
The eligibility rule has now (December 2016) been changed to variations of "the
contestant must be medically and legally recognised as female".
The new meaning is still very ambiguous as it varies from country to country,
in practice the organisers probably hope that it means years of
female hormone treatment, sex re-assignment surgery and a female
women entering major beauty contests since the rule changes include:
Jackie Green, entered Miss England 2012 (Finalist)
Céline Van Den Bossche, qualified for the final of Miss Universe Belgium 2016
Kylan Arianna Wenzel, entered Miss California USA 2013
Angela Maria Ponce,
Cadiz 2015, entered
Miss World Spain 2015
From left to right: Jacki Green, Jenna
Talackova, Kylan Wenzel, Chen Lili, Angela Ponce
It briefly seemed that the Philippines would be represented by a
transgender contestant (Carla Marie Madrigal) at the finals of Miss
Universe 2015 when their original choice (Pia Wurtzbach) was
disqualified because she was half German. However Pia was
eventually reinstated and went on to win the contest.
Angela Ponce is an extraordinary instance of how the world is changing.
She had doubts about about her gender from age 11. After several
years of hormone therapy she had SRS in April 2014, age 23. She was working as a waitress in the family restaurant when she won the
regional contest in August 2015, apparently just a pretty local girl
with modelling ambitions.
She progressed to the Miss World Spain final in October 2015
and was the bookmakers favourite until someone in the media spotted that
she was involved in a project to help transgender children
Fundación Daniela. She was open about being transgender in
subsequent interviews, indeed she had never tried to hide this - it just
had not been raised as a question before.
Angela lost the pageant to the eventual Miss World - Mireia
Angela then worked as a promotional model,
before entering the 2018 Miss Universe Spain contest at the
relatively old age of 26. She made the news world-wide when on 29 June 2018 she
deservedly won the contest (left).
As such, she was the first openly transgender woman to win a
national-level title in one of the big-four beauty pageants - Earth,
International, World and Universe. When the finals were
held in Bangkok, Thailand on 17 December 2018, she was eliminated in the
first round - but celebrated her participation (right) and
received huge acclamation on social media.