Unpacking (Trans)gender Roles at the Miss America Pageant

How a pageant showcased a certain kind of woman and its impact in my own life

Adryan Corcione
6 min readApr 4, 2023

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While scrolling on Instagram a few weeks ago, a post stuck out to me. Queer journalist Nico Lang (@queernewsdaily) posted about how the Miss America Organization added, and then promptly deleted after receiving backlash, “natural born woman” (whatever the hell that means) to its eligibly requirements, restricting transgender women from participating in the competition. The post linked to an open letter signed by the LGBTQ+ candidates, which calls for all women to compete. The organization hasn’t responded to the demand.

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this news. What has me fixated on this news is what the Miss America pageant has represented.

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It’s not at all surprising to hear about this cultural institution of its own barring trans women. This isn’t the first time, either. In 2018, when Miss America…