Jenna Talackova's fight opens Miss Universe pageant to transgender women

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      Vancouver's Jenna Talackova has won her high-profile fight to have the Miss Universe pageant opened up to transgender women.

      Weeks after Talackova was disqualified from the Miss Universe Canada contest, the Miss Universe Organization and the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation announced today (April 10) that the rules will be updated to include women who are transgender.

      Talackova has been cleared to compete this year, and other trans women will be allowed to enter the Miss Universe competition, owned by Donald Trump and NBC Universal, starting in 2013.

      "For more than two weeks, the Miss Universe Organization and Mr. Trump made it clear to GLAAD that they were open to making a policy change to include women who are transgender," GLAAD spokesperson Herndon Graddick said in a statement. "We appreciate that he and his team responded swiftly and appropriately. The Miss Universe Organization today follows institutions that have taken a stand against discrimination of transgender women including the Olympics, NCAA, the Girl Scouts of America and The CW’s America’s Next Top Model.

      "Jenna and all of the LGBT advocates who have called for this change and spoken out in support of transgender women are to be commended. At a time when transgender people are still routinely denied equal opportunities in housing, employment and medical care, today’s decision is in line with the growing levels of public support for transgender people across the country."

      However, Paula Shugart, president of the Miss Universe Organization, took a shot at Talackova's feisty lawyer, Gloria Allred.

      "We want to give credit where credit is due, and the decision to include transgender women in our beauty competitions is a result of our ongoing discussions with GLAAD and not Jenna’s legal representation, which if anything, delayed the process," Shugart said in a statement. "We have a long history of supporting equality for all women, and this was something we took very seriously."

      Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, thanked Talackova for "standing up for herself and for all of us".

      "No one likes it when they’re left out of something because of who they are," Keisling said in a statement. "This is especially true for transgender people—people like Jenna Talackova—who are denied opportunities because they’re told that who they are is ‘unnatural.’ So I get that Jenna probably still doesn’t feel good about the situation. But it’s a noteworthy thing for a group like the Miss Universe Organization and Donald Trump to switch positions allowing Jenna to participate, and to commit to developing transgender inclusive rules. This is a good thing, and it’s a sign of how more and more people get trans issues."

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      Apr 10, 2012 at 2:30pm

      The fact that transgender women are born are as males should have no bearing of whether these individuals get to compete, because the pageant isn't about whether if one is born with male organs or not but if they approximate the esteemed attributes of a winning female contestant at present and just because such individuals may have been apart from their current sexuality doesn't mean we should discriminate and punish them as a society for it. Congratulations Jenna.


      Apr 10, 2012 at 2:47pm

      Jenna, you have changed the world, and made it a more equal place. congratulations!


      Apr 10, 2012 at 3:12pm

      I think that transgender women are easily more the ideal for these types of pageants. They are usually taller and have less body fat thanks to their male genes. Even after hormone therapy some changes that occured before hand make them more the body type that those contests are promote as the most beautiful. Plus with all the plastic surgery... Perfection. Of course those contestants naturally born female may also have had plastic surgery. I still think transgender women are best representative of the "ideal" for those pageants.
      I still think that many judges will have bad attitudes and be prejudice against transgender women in these contests. I think the contestants naturally born sex (male, female, intersex) is not the business of the pageant commity.
      Although I am not a supporter of pageants in general, I am a supporter of equality. Way to go Jenna! Oh Canada :)


      Apr 11, 2012 at 6:22pm

      I don't think anyone who has had plastic surgery should be allowed to compete, regardless of gender at birth. Otherwise, it is really just a competition among plastic surgeons for whose work is best.