Miss France contest opens to transgender contestants

PHOTO: Miss Nord-Pas-de-Calais Maeva Coucke, center, poses with other contestants after winning the Miss France 2018 pageant in Chateauroux, central France, Dec. 16, 2017.PlayGuillaume Souvant/AFP/Getty Images, FILE
WATCH Transgender terms: Breaking down definitions and dos and don'ts

The rules of the Miss France contest no longer prevent transgender people from participating, the director of the Miss France pageant, Sylvie Tellier, said in a recent interview.

But, she added, she does not believe France is ready for a transgender Miss France.

In an interview with local newspaper Le Parisien in French, Tellier confirmed contestants will no longer need to fill the requirement of being assigned female at birth. Instead, the rules require being a woman between 18 and 25 years old.

PHOTO: CEO of Miss France Company Sylvie Tellier attends an event at Palais De Tokyo, Sept. 9, 2019 in Paris, France. Corbis via Getty Images, FILE
CEO of Miss France Company Sylvie Tellier attends an event at Palais De Tokyo, Sept. 9, 2019 in Paris, France.

With this, France follows in the footsteps of some of its neighbors. In Belgium, a contestant who is transgender, Céline Van Den Bossche, entered the pageant in 2015, and in Spain, contestant Angela Ponce, who is trans, won the title last year.

The Miss France pageant is a popular program in France, attracting 7.4 million viewers every year as it is broadcast live in December on channel TF1.

Recently, the French public showed openness to more diversity with the victories of candidates from the DOM-TOMs (Overseas Departments and Regions), France's provinces situated outside of Europe, such as Miss Guyana in 2017 and Miss Tahiti in 2019.

PHOTO: Miss Nord-Pas-de-Calais Maeva Coucke, center, poses with other contestants after winning the Miss France 2018 pageant in Chateauroux, central France, Dec. 16, 2017. Guillaume Souvant/AFP/Getty Images, FILE
Miss Nord-Pas-de-Calais Maeva Coucke, center, poses with other contestants after winning the Miss France 2018 pageant in Chateauroux, central France, Dec. 16, 2017.

But according to Tellier, transgender contestants would have little chance of getting the crown in France.

"In our country, I do not think people are ready, they already chose not to elect a Miss Vallon d'Auvergne who is a size 9 or 10," she told Le Parisien.

The head of the pageant committee and former Miss France added that in the rules of the pageant, plastic surgery is a disqualifying factor.

ABC News reached out to the Miss France Committee and several transgender advocacy groups for comment.