‘Celebration of Women’: Pageant Queens Explain Why Beauty Pageants Are for Women Only
A few years ago, controversy struck the Miss United States Of America (USOA) franchise when Anita Green, a biological male who, after transitioning, now identifies as a transwoman, sued the organization for discrimination. While Green had competed in beauty pageants before, such as Miss Montana USA, Miss USOA only allows for “natural born females” to enter their pageants. Upon trying to compete in Oregon, Green argued that the organization had violated the state’s public accommodation law.
This week, the Ninth Circuit Court disagreed, ruling in favor of Miss USOA’s First Amendment right to only allow biological women to compete in their beauty pageants. Represented by Alliance Defending Freedom, the pageant organization preserved their decision to exclude transgender-identifying individuals from participating.
In ADF’s official statement, Senior Counsel Christiana Kiefer stated that, “Ignoring the biological reality that men and women are different harms women and their opportunities to compete, excel, and win — from female athletes sidelined in their own sports to women competing in beauty pageants on the national stage.”
Miss USOA’s decision to uphold traditional womanhood comes in contrast to the Miss Universe organization, which includes the stateside entry pageant Miss USA. That entity was recently purchased by Thai billionaire Anne Jakkaphong, a biological male who identifies as a woman. In recent years, both Miss Universe and Miss USA have allowed transgender-identifying individuals to compete in what have historically been women’s beauty pageants. In 2018, Angela Ponce, a biological male, competed as Miss Spain as the first trans-identifying contestant in Miss Universe. In 2021, Kataluna Enriquez won the Miss Nevada USA title and became the first trans-identifying individual to compete in Miss USA.
For many young women across America, pageants are an opportunity to glam up, refine public speaking skills, exhibit their talents, earn scholarships — all while celebrating womanhood. Former beauty queen Hope Harvard is a firm believer in the good that pageants can do for young women like herself. It was through her competition for Miss South Carolina Teen (a title she secured in 2014) that she grew in self-confidence, earned money for college, and set herself up for future success as a White House staffer and an entrepreneur. “Pageants quite literally trained me to be the woman I am today,” she told The Washington Stand.
Having held several titles such as Miss Texas 2014 and Miss Florida USA 2020, former pageant queen Monique Evans, also praised the competative circuit. “One of the beauties about pageantry is it brings young women together that have similar goals, are very driven, and you create bonds and friendship — and those friendships carry with you,” she told TWS. “I learned how to present myself as a young woman in society, speaking, dressing, [and] developing those friendships.”
“But having a trans individual in that grouping creates a different dynamic,” she continued, “and [that affects] the dynamic driven towards young women. It then becomes a movement for the trans community.”
Evans explained that if a beauty pageant organization allows biological men to compete, it would be taking away opportunities from women who would have deserved the title. “The Left always talks about the patriarchy and how they’re against the patriarchy and all this,” she said. “And yet they give the big titles to men?” She pointed to Miss Nevada 2021, the purchase of Miss Universe, and USA Today’s Woman of the Year 2022 Rachel Levine as examples of biological men taking titles that women deserved. “Don’t try to cancel women,” she emphasized.
Similarly, Harvard told TWS that she believes that the opportunity to compete in beauty pageants should be exclusively for women, because, “There’s nothing empowering about giving women’s-only opportunities to men.”
“Pageants are like a sports league for women and are one of only multifaceted programs that celebrate and women empower women exclusively,” she elaborated. “Women win scholarships, cash prizes, talent and modeling contracts, and the opportunity to advocate for issues politically at the state, national, and global levels.
“Therefore, opportunities provided for women through pageants should be kept exclusive to women,” she continued. “Transgender men are simply men pretending to be women who would take the chance from a real woman.”
“Pageants are a celebration of women and femininity,” Harvard concluded. “They cease to be that when we allow men to compete.”
While many in the culture question the definition of “woman” and feminity, the beauty queens offered their perspectives on what it means to be a woman and participate in feminine events like pageants.
“Being a woman is not a costume at all. It’s not makeup, hair, a dress. That isn’t what makes you a woman,” Evans told TWS. “There are so many things about being female that are wonderful, but it is a lived experience.” She contrasted this with Ulta’s recent beauty and girlhood campaign featuring a biological male who identifies as a woman.
Evans shared that, from her faith as a Christian, she believes that God made man and woman distinct. “I think it is the objective of the Left to try and make men into women and women into men,” she continued. “What that does is it breaks down the family unit. And, as soon as you have a broken family unit, the government is able to get more control. And I think that's the goal. I think that’s why the media and all these organizations are pushing for the trans movement.”
“Woman is not something you decide to be, it’s how you are born,” Harvard told TWS. “Women are made in the image of God and are the manifestation of His tenderness and loveliness. God’s design for His children and creation is perfect. He created women, as a gender and individually, on purpose — for a purpose. Our fun femininity is celebrated and showcased in pageantry.”
“The differences between men and women are not a gaping valley to alienate the sexes,” she proposed, “but rather a bridge that attracts us to each other as each fulfills each other’s needs. When we accept that, humans flourish individually and societally.”
Marjorie Jackson is a reporter for The Washington Stand.