Ousted Miss Universe Canada trans contestant Jenna Talackova born female, advocates say

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      Vancouver's Jenna Talackova was born female. That's what Vancouver-based Trans Alliance Society chair Marie Little and NDP MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert insist.

      The 23-year-old Talackova made international headlines and found herself at the centre of controversy when she was disqualified from Miss Universe Canada 2012 on March 23. The pageant's website states that Talackova, who was one of 65 finalists chosen on March 12, will no longer compete "because she did not meet the requirements to compete despite having stated otherwise on her entry form".

      According to news reports, the competition's rules state that contestants must be a "naturally born female". Although she reportedly filled out the entry form stating she was born female, she was removed from the Donald Trump–owned pageant when organizers identified her as a trans person.

      The Miss Universe Canada organization did not respond to an interview request from the Straight by the time of this posting.

      Talackova is currently seeking legal advice about her removal from the pageant. An online petition was launched to request that the decision to remove Talackova be reversed.

      In a video interview for the Miss International Queen Competition, a trans beauty pageant in Pattaya, Thailand, Talackova said she identified not as a trans person but as "a woman, with a history". She said she was certain she was female from about age four, underwent hormone therapy at age 14, and had surgery at age 19.

      But advocates and activists argue that she was in fact born female.

      "What happens when a child is born is the doctor looks at the genitals and writes 'M' or 'F' on the birth certificate," Little told the Georgia Straight by phone. "But I think the brain is at least an important an organ as the genitals. And every study I've seen indicates that the masculine and feminine structures of the brain are formed before birth. So she was born with a feminine brain."

      Herbert agreed.

      "I would say she is born female," he said by phone. "It's taken a while for science and society to catch up to that fact…. If you are a female, even if you've got male bits that you were born with, you have that right to transition, to be who you really are. Nature works in funny ways. Sometimes our minds are mismatched with our bodies, and science has shown that pretty clearly."

      While separate pageants for trans people do exist, Little pointed out that such contests are not necessarily on par with mainstream competitions.

      "Realistically, the prizes are not the same. The publicity is not the same," she said. "And even if a prospective employer in a modelling agency or whatever, if they see, 'Oh, you've won the Miss Trans Whatever' instead of 'You've won Miss Canada or whatever', they're going to cast you as a trans person in a movie, not as a woman. So I think this whole attempt to separate trans people into a separate community is really harmful discrimination."

      Little assisted Herbert with a transgender rights bill called the Gender Identity and Expression Human Rights Recognition Act that Herbert introduced to the legislature on May 26. The proposed provincial legislation would add "gender identity" and "gender expression" to the code, thereby explicitly protecting B.C. trans people from discrimination.

      In fact, the night before hearing about Talackova's removal, Herbert had been working with the Canadian Bar Association at a conference about transgender human rights in Canada, and had been discussing his provincial bill and former MP Bill Siksay's federal transgender rights bill (which was introduced in February 2011 but has since been dissolved).

      "To see a case like this, it makes a pretty good argument for why we do need these explicit rights put in, even if they're already read into the Charter and the Human Rights Code," he said. "From what I've seen, there's a huge lack of information and education out there for people about who transgender Canadians are."

      He said that he had written to B.C. attorney general Shirley Bond if she would support the bill or not.

      "What she wrote back, she said, 'Thank you for your work for human rights. We will consider this when we're updating the Human Rights Code'," Herbert said. "So then I wrote back, and I asked, 'Well, when are you going to do that?' Well, there are no plans to do that at this time. So basically, I was told a flat-out 'no', that the Liberals are not interested in doing anything on this, in a polite way."


      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at twitter.com/cinecraig. You can also follow the Straight's LGBT coverage on Twitter at twitter.com/StraightLGBT.



      You're kidding, right

      Mar 26, 2012 at 3:26pm

      This is silly.

      She was born with the PRIMARY sexual organs of a male. She was therefore born a male. This was not a case of a hermaphrodite having to make a choice as to how they choose to live their life.

      I am happy that she has now got the body that she wants and the mindset that goes along with that. But she was born a "he". We still cannot fully account for the psyche. We can only go on what we can prove. And this was a case of a person being born with fully functioning male sexual organs.

      You can't change the chromosomes that made you, physically.

      Grade 9 Biology

      Mar 26, 2012 at 4:15pm

      Don't the chromosomes decide who or what is male or female? As in XX or XY? If she (or he) has XX chromosomes then regardless of genital configuration she's female. If on the other hand.. yea you get it... A simple DNA test is all that is required IMHO

      Steven T.

      Mar 26, 2012 at 4:32pm

      Dude look like a lady.


      Mar 26, 2012 at 4:39pm

      miss universe is a competition for real women not for lab rats

      who cares

      Mar 26, 2012 at 4:39pm

      "Should the moronically useless Miss Universe pageant be ousted from existence" should be the story.

      Chris In Kamloops

      Mar 26, 2012 at 6:51pm

      The Olympics gave up chromosome testing in 1996 as its results were completely ambiguous and useless at determining sex. ( A person can be XY and present as female - it's called androgen insensitivity. ) If biological sex is so ambiguous, and harad to determine, don't you think it behooves you to understand trans issues better? Or shouldn't you be polite - calling a trans person a "lab rat" is disrespectful at the very least.

      Be a Man

      Mar 26, 2012 at 7:09pm

      You mean they allow people who have had plastic surgery to be in the Miss Universe contest and they don't let them use steroids in sports? I have sympathy for Ms. Talackova's plight, but she's trying to fix a leaky roof in a termite infested house. Kill the Miss Universe competition already.


      Mar 26, 2012 at 8:41pm

      This is just food for thought, say they were going to allow Jenna compete, then thereafter can any contestant undergo plastic surgery and still compete? The question is, where do we cross the line? I'm truely sorry for Jenna, but I have to agree with the decision, however she may feel she is truely a woman, the community at large cannot be compelled to think so too...


      Mar 27, 2012 at 1:24am

      No one else finds the fact that her name is Jenna Talackova rather humourous. Please if that is not a drag name I dunno what is?
      phonetically it sounds Genitalia cover...JennaTala Ckova.
      This is hypocrasy really, I wanna know which Miss Universe in the last 5 years hasn't been re-worked in some way or another ...Good God 3 years ago the winner from Dominican Republic was for sure a MAN.
      the hypocrasy lies within taking her money to enter the competition and then telling her that she isn't a her when clearly one good look at the photo would tell you ,let alone seeing her in person.
      It's crap and Donald Dump should worry more about the tumbleweed on his head


      Mar 27, 2012 at 2:49am

      I find that impossible to believe. Her facial structures show zero percent of her being born a man.