As the Miss Universe Canada competition is narrowed to the top 65 candidates, the contest officials have focused their attention to one of the finalists, because she was once a he.
Jenna Talackova is a male to female transgender who has been living as a recognized woman since her gender reassignment surgery in 2008, when she was 19 years old.
Talackova entered the pageant meeting all outlined requirements for contestants. In the entry form there is no mention of sex changes or cosmetic surgery being against the rules for entry.
When she was disqualified by the event’s organizers, Talackova gained massive support in the form of more than 40,000 signatures in an online petition demanding her re-admittance into the Miss Universe pageant.
“We are born this way…it’s just an accident of birth that the body disagrees with the brain,” Talackova said in an interview with samesame.au.
In response to the uproar the director of Miss Universe Canada, Denis Davila, released a statement concerning the situation.
“She was dishonest…We have to have the facts straight. There is no discrimination here at all…You can look at it the way she wants to look at it, but we all have to follow the same rules,” Davila said. “It’s really unfortunate that we had to pull her out of the competition, but the truth of the matter is that we all have a set of rules that we must enforce.”
After going through hormone therapy since the age of 14 and having gender reassignment surgery, Talackova is legally a woman. She has had her name legally changed and Canada recognizes her as a woman. So why should the competition look at her in a different light?
Since the petition, Talackova has been allowed back into the pageant.
“As long as she meets the standards of legal gender recognition requirements of Canada, which we understand that she does, Jenna Talackova is free to compete in the 2012 Miss Universe Canada pageant,” Michael Cohen, special counsel to Donald Trump, who owns the pageant, said in a statement in the National Post earlier this week.
Pageants already have a bad reputation following them with the stereotype of ditzy, blonde shells competing based off beauty and baton twirling.
Now with all of the attention on Talackova’s case, they are sure to get even a worse reputation for being discriminatory against transgender contestants.
If the rules had actually outlined that contestants need to be naturally born women then there would be more of an issue present.
However, the rule came out of the blue and created the issue for judges.
Now there is the chance new rules will be put into place in future pageants since the situation has been brought to light.
No one should be punished for something out of his or her control; from something as simple as being born with an odd hair color to the gender that is assigned at birth, no one should have a past held over his or her head.
The Miss Universe pageant has finally accepted Talackova, and should continue to support the women of the transgender community in future pageants.