Over 352.8K Daily Active Readers

Click to Find a Pageant Near You

Pageant Director Responds to Gender Requirements of Competing at Miss Universe Iceland

Whether transgenders can compete in pageants can be a sensitive subject for many people. The Miss Universe Iceland pageant is being held in Iceland for the third time this year, and a debate about whether transgender women can compete or not has been going around social media for the last couple of days. (Read: Pageant Question About Transgender Pageant Contestants)

About Miss Universe Iceland

When Manuela Ósk and Jorge Esteban brought the Miss Universe Iceland pageant to life in 2016, Iceland had been abstinent from the Miss Universe pageant since 2009. The Miss World Iceland pageant has been held in Iceland since 1950 and was the only pageant until the Miss Universe Iceland pageant was held in 2016. (Read: Miss Universe Iceland 2016 Evening Gown: HIT or MISS?)

In the Miss Iceland pageant, Iceland sent representatives to Miss World and sometimes the first runner-up went to the Miss Universe. Everyone in the pageant world would agree the Miss Universe Iceland pageant was much needed in Iceland, but Icelanders are generally known to have a prejudice against the notion of beauty pageants, so the Miss Universe Iceland pageant got a lot of publicity in the media and many were questioning if Iceland needed another pageant.

Now, three years later after two very successful competitions, a debate has come up via social media about whether transgenders should be allowed to compete in the Miss Universe Iceland pageant.

ArnaYr- Miss UniverseIceland
Arna Ýr Jónsdóttir, Miss Universe Iceland 2017. Photo: Facebook via Miss Universe Iceland

The debate

The debate arose from the list of requirements applicant need to fulfill in order to be eligible for the Miss Universe Iceland pageant. Alda Villiljós, the chairman of Trans Iceland, criticized that you need to be “medically certified as a woman.” Alda Villiljós said it is an outdated attitude towards trans people. (Read: First Openly Transgender Contestant To Compete In Miss Montana USA)

“When in the process is it possible to physically confirm an individual is a woman?” Alda Villiljós said. “Is it when you produce more estrogens than testosterone? Is it when you’ve gone through gender reassignment surgery? Where do you draw the line? Is there one at all?”

The application deadline is close, and in the application form, there is a list of requirements you need to fulfill to be accepted into the pageant, for example, not be married or have children and be 18-28 years old. While looking through the requirements, Helena Hafsteinsdóttir, an art student in Iceland, noticed one of the requirements is, “The applicant needs to be medically certified as a female by an Icelandic doctor.”

“Does this mean that trans women cannot compete in Miss Universe Iceland?” Hafsteinsdóttir tweeted with a screenshot of the application document. Arguments of both sides stirred up on social media after the tweet.

Photo: Twitter
Photo: Twitter


Manuela Ósk, pageant director, responds

Manuela Ósk replied that a transgender woman can participate if they have gone through gender reassignment.

“You need to be a woman, that is the basic condition,” Ósk said. “You may have been born male, but to participate you must have gone through the process of gender reassignment.”

Ósk points out that the rules are the international rules that Miss Universe Organization requires and that all the Icelandic participants need to meet these requirements so that if they win, they will be qualified to compete at Miss Universe.

“You can always offend someone, and if people want to take it in this way, there is nothing I or anyone else can change,” Ósk said. “These are rules that Miss Universe Organization requires and though I would like to invite everyone to participate in the pageant here in Iceland but then it would eliminate participation in Miss Universe and then there would be no point.”

Ósk also points out that the rules are slowly changing and have improved through the years.

“Once you weren’t allowed to participate at all if you had been born a man,” Ósk said. “As I said, rules have been slowly changing, so hopefully at some point there won’t be any limit to join in.”

Since they started with the pageant, she hasn’t received one application from a transgender woman.

“I have never received an application from a trans woman, so I think so far there hasn’t been any interest in participating,” Ósk said. “Nobody has ever even sent me an inquiry about this, but absolutely, this is something that needs to be reviewed in the future.” (Read: Pageant Question About What Intimidates You)

Manuela Osk, Miss Universe Iceland director. Photo: Facebook via Manuela Osk
Manuela Osk, Miss Universe Iceland director. Photo: Facebook via Manuela Osk

What do you think about transgenders competing in beauty pageants? Should the rules be different?

Have a great news story you’d love to see covered on the Pageant Planet? Let us know here!

Which dress do you like better?

3 thoughts on “Pageant Director Responds to Gender Requirements of Competing at Miss Universe Iceland

  1. The Global united Pageant welcomes contestants who have completed gender reassignment. We have actually welcomed transgender individuals to compete. These individuals have been very appreciative of the welcome, open arms we provided when many programs would not take them- and they tried to enter. Global United is about empowering women. If you have made the transition in the process of becoming a physical women, we embrace and welcome you to our family as you enter your journey in womanhood. If you haven’t quite completed the process, we applaud you for taking the steps toward finding who you truly are and can’t wait to meet you in the future.

    For me, when making the decision to determine whom we would have join the program, it was about the main missions of the program for us: Did we want to become a pageant for all people, a program made for women, a program that allowed “drag”, a program that represented the homosexual community, etc? Once we had determined that we wanted to have a program focusing on empowering and developing the self esteems of women, made it their mission to bring together women of all nations to share thoughts, friendships, and professional developments, then we had to decide at what point that definition: “woman” would determine eligibility.

    It’s a tough and long debate that I’m sure will always continue to develop and change for us, as a program, and as our understanding of trans people and others looking to continue to explore the universe of gender- and it’s many forms- continues to expand.

  2. If only women who can prove they are medically women can participate, then no transgenders should be allowed to participate. No matter how much surgery you have, how many hormones you take, what you wear or how you feel, a man can NEVER become a woman. That’s not hateful, it’s biology. Period. Why is this such a hard concept?

  3. We had a transgender delegate compete in Miss Universe Canada a few years back. She didn’t win the title but she was won the friendship award as voted by the other delegates.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join The Largest Pageant Network on the Planet! Choose a registration option below to write reviews, contribute to our Hall of Fame, and more!

Get a Free Account Get Unlimited Pageant Coaching