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Uproar Over Medical Requirements To Take Part In Miss Universe Iceland

Uproar Over Medical Requirements To Take Part In Miss Universe Iceland

Alice Demurtas
Words by
Photos by
Wikimedia Commons

Published March 9, 2018

The Chairman of Trans Iceland Alda Villiljós has condemned the requirement list published by Miss Universe Iceland which requires applicants to be “medically certified women.” In an interview with Visir, Alda called it a perfect example of obsolete attitudes towards trans people.

The applications for the 2018 edition of beauty pageant Miss Universe Iceland are open until March 15th. While perusing the requirements list, art student Helena Hafsteinsdóttir noticed how one of the rules states that “the applicant must be medically certified to be a woman by an Icelandic doctor.”

“Does this mean that trans women cannot compete in Miss Universe Iceland?” she immediately tweeted, publishing a picture of the document along with her comment. The tweet caused uproar on social media on both sides of the argument.

Where do you draw the line

Alda Villiljós has criticised the requirement for being obsolete: in particular, they state, the idea that all men need to have a penis and all women need to have a vagina is completely outdated, and the younger generations know this very well. It’s worth noting that as of now, an individual is not required to take hormones or undergo surgery in order to change their gender on Iceland’s National Registry.

To be able to participate in the beauty competition, however, “you need to be a woman. It’s a basic condition,” organiser Manuela Ósk explains. “You may have been born male, but to participate you must have gone through the process of gender reassignment.”

Nevertheless, Alda poses the question of how to pinpoint the defining moment when one can be officially called a woman during the whole process of changing gender. “When in the process is it possible to physically confirm an individual is a woman? Is it when you produce more estrogen than testosterone?,” they told Visir. “Is it when you’ve gone through gender reassignment surgery? Where do you draw the line? Is there one at all?”

You can always offend someone

Manuela, however, doesn’t seem to think this is an actual issue. “I have never received an application by a trans woman, so I think so far there hasn’t even been any interest in participating,” she says. “Nobody has ever even sent me an inquiry about this but absolutely, this is something that needs to be reviewed in the future.”

Manuela also points out that Miss Universe Iceland simply follows international requirements listed by the Miss Universe Organisation. These rules also require a woman to be unmarried in order to apply, and for her to have never had a child. “You can always run in the risk of offending someone, but if people want to look at it this way there is nothing I or anyone else can do to change the situation,” Manuela adds, pointing out that rules have already improved quite a bit through the years. “Once you weren’t allowed to participate at all if you had been born a man. As I said, rules have been slowly changing so hopefully at some point there won’t be any limit to join in.”


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