A trans woman wants to become Miss Germany 2023

Miss Germany Trans

Some 15,000 women from across the country have applied to become the next Miss Germany, according to pageant organizers.

On Tuesday (28.2.2023) the 10 finalists were announced, and one of them is causing a lot to talk about: Saskia von Bargen, 19, is a trans woman who lives with her parents and her three little sisters in the village from Friedrichsfehn, Lower Saxony.

Von Bargen knew from the age of 5 that she was a girl. She preferred to play with girls and wear dresses. “My parents realized very early on that it wasn’t just a phase,” says the 19-year-old, who praises her parents for supporting her from the start. At school, however, things were not always easy, and she wore boy’s clothes to avoid bullying.

At age 11, von Bargen started taking puberty blockers, followed by feminizing hormone therapy two years later. It was also then that she came out at school, which made her life easier and she began to feel more accepted. When von Bargen came of age, she underwent gender surgery. Saskia is the name of her chosen from her.

Miss Germany renews her image

Winning a beauty pageant used to be associated with good looks and the ability to walk like a runway model. But Miss Germany Studios, the company that organizes the national pageant, has radically changed the evaluation criteria, in an attempt to renew the pageant’s image.

Since 2019, the candidates no longer parade on the catwalk in a bikini. Height and weight are also not important anymore. In fact, appearances play absolutely no role, according to Jil Andert of Miss Germany Studios. Women rather have to show strong personality traits and “are meant to be a source of inspiration,” Andert told the German press agency dpa.

But sociologist Nina Degele of the University of Freiburg is unimpressed by the pageant’s makeover, calling the Miss Germany format outdated. If her goal is to be relevant, the sociologist herself believes that “the format should be abolished and replaced with something completely different.”

For his part, Von Bargen assures that the Miss Germany pageant is the “perfect platform” to tell his story. A trainee at a fashion store, Von Bargen wants to educate people about what it means to be a trans woman. She is open about the things that went wrong with her first operation. In total, she has undergone 12 surgeries. Despite her difficulties, she has no regrets.

She entered the contest to promote awareness of transgender issues, and considers herself an ambassador for this cause. If she wins, she will take 25,000 euros ($26,500).

She is not the first trans woman to reach the final

Von Bargen is not the first trans woman to go this far in a Miss Germany pageant. Last year Gadou, a trans woman from Hannover, also from Lower Saxony, made it to the final.

But von Bargen hopes to be the first trans woman to win. The final will take place on Saturday (4.3.2023) at the Europa-Park in Rust, in the southwest of Germany.

Other finalists include an energy consultant who wants to advance women in a male-dominated field and a midwife who aspires to start her own birthing center.

The Miss Germany pageant, which was first held in 1927 but was banned by the Nazis, should not be confused with Miss Universe Germany, where an official candidate is selected for the Miss Universe pageant.