Transgender Woman Can Compete for Miss Universe

Jenna Talackova got an explicit seal of approval from Donald Trump to participate in the pageant

Wednesday, Apr 4, 2012  |  Updated 6:18 AM PDT
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Jenna Talackova, pictured (center) at a November 2010 pageant in Thailand, will be allowed to participate in the 2012 competition to become Canada's contestant at the Miss Universe contest. Talackova, who is transgender, had previously been barred by a rule that contestants must be cisgender, or "naturally born," women.

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Donald Trump wished a transgender woman who wants to be Miss Universe good luck on Tuesday as his organization said she can vie for Canada's spot in the pageant.

The Miss Universe Organization said it actually made the decision Monday to let 23-year-old Jenna Talackova compete in the 2012 competition to become Canada's contestant.

The statement said Trump wished Talackova "the best of luck in her quest for the crown" as he would any other contestant.

But a statement issued then had a caveat that confused Talackova, saying she could enter the pageant "provided she meets the legal gender recognition requirements of Canada, and the standards established by other international competitions." No further details were provided.

Earlier Tuesday, Talackova and her attorney Gloria Allred urged the organization to clarify its position, and displayed a copy of Talackova's passport, which lists her as female, as do her birth certificate and driver's license.

Talackova, a Vancouver resident, underwent a sex change four years ago after being born a male.

Her sex change initially led organizers in Canada to disqualify her from the 61st Miss Universe Canada pageant in May, citing a rule that she must be "naturally born" a woman.

Talackova pleaded with the pageant's leaders to drop the rule.

"I am a woman," Talackova said Tuesday. "I was devastated, and I felt that excluding me for the reason that they gave was unjust. I have never asked for any special consideration. I only wanted to compete."

Talackova and Allred urged Trump to state that she can vie to represent Canada in the Miss Universe contest if she wins the Canadian contest. They also called on him to eliminate the rule.

"I do not want any other woman to suffer the discrimination that I have endured," Talackova said.

In response, the pageant organizers issued a statement saying "Gloria Allred's statements to the press today pay no mind to the fact that Mr. Trump and the Miss Universe Organization made the fair and just decision in allowing Jenna to compete in the Miss Universe 2012 Canada pageant."

It also said it's evaluating its rules to ensure that type of issue does not occur again.

"There is no need to further 'evaluate'," Allred responded late Tuesday. "The rule is blatantly discriminatory and it is time for Mr. Trump to say that he will get rid of the rule."

The rule requiring a contestant to be "naturally born female" appears to still be in effect in other countries around the world, Allred said.

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