Transgender Contestant Barred from Beauty Pageant

The Miss Universe Canada pageant has disqualified Jenna Talackova, a transgender woman, from the competition. They say the rules state contestants must be “naturally born female” and that she was disqualified for lying on her application and breaking the rules.

But is it wrong to break a rule that exists solely for the purpose of discriminating against trans women? The 24-year-old Talackova has lived as a woman for at least a decade, and says she’s known she was female since the age of 4. She has undergone hormone therapy and sex reassignment surgery. For all intents and purposes, she’s physically and mentally a woman.

Jilian Page of the Montreal Gazette asks: when is it appropriate to ask trans women to disclose their medical history? When applying for a job? When participating in a private event? Is it discrimination for an organization to even ask? These are interesting questions, and Page doesn’t seem to be sure of the appropriate answers.

Mara Keisling of the US-based National Center for Transgender Equality was more direct in her response to Miss Universe Canada. She told QMI Agency in an interview:

“It’s straightforward. They made a decision that they want to discriminate against transgender women,” Keisling said shortly after stepping off a plane in Charlotte, NC. “More and more people understand this person is a woman. There’s nothing about her that should disqualify her.”

Keisling added that “From what I’ve read, it doesn’t sound like they had any rules. It seems like they made them up on the fly to disqualify her.”

“It makes you wonder what they’re afraid of.”

Miss Universe Canada insists that there are no hard feelings, going so far as to post a statement on its website stating, “Jenna Talackova from Vancouver, British Columbia, will not compete in the 2012 Miss Universe Canada competition because she did not meet the requirements to compete despite having stated otherwise on her entry form. We do, however, respect her goals, determination and wish her the best.”

No word yet on whether Ms. Talackova feels the respect or not. She’s refraining from issuing any statements from the press until she can consult with her lawyer. Maybe that means she’s looking at the possibility of legal action against the competition for discrimination?


Related stories:

Mexican Trans Activist Agnes Torres Murdered

Trans Woman Sues For Alleged Police Harassment

Parents of Trans Kids: It Gets Better (VIDEO)

Photo credit: Jorge Mejía


Norma V.
Norma Villarreal4 years ago

Naturally born woman? Just another way to eliminate the competition.

pam w.
pam w4 years ago

Ginger...."you are what Mother Nature made matter what you pay some doctor to chop off or tack on. Nothing changes but the costume."

Except that gender resides in the brain. And, if the brain considers itself something other than the genitals....are you saying it's "wrong" to correct that genetic error and assume the "right" costume?

pam w.
pam w4 years ago

For all intents and purposes, she’s physically and mentally a woman.

OF COURSE she's a woman! And I suppose that, had she been born with a deformation of the clitoris or external genitals...she'd be disqualified, too?

NONSENSE! It's not as if she's a man pretending to be a woman so he can win at the Olympics. (The Russians were good at that, back when I was a child.) It's about looks, talent and attitude.

Who CARES how she was born?

Elizabeth Bookbinder

As far as I'm concerned she WAS a naturally born female, born with a horrible physical condition. Not saying that I am positive, but I feel it is probable that the majority of us know what gender we are supposed to be. We are just the lucky ones that are given the body we desire.

(not saying I know everything, this is just my opinion.)

James Campbell
James Campbell4 years ago

“naturally born female”

I see that there are no takers for my request to explain this term!

Christine Stewart
Christine S5 years ago

I'm just jealous that she's better looking than I am....

s. ryan
p. q5 years ago

let the man-woman be pretty!

James Campbell
James Campbell5 years ago

Ginger S. “you are what Mother Nature made you”.

Oh I couldn’t agree more! Let’s see ......... Mother Nature made individuals with a penis a uterus/ a vagina testes / a male brain in a female body / a female brain in a male body/ individuals (1 in 2000) whose genitalia is neither male nor female / men with XX sex chromosomes / women with XY sex chromosomes/people with two variations of DNA ...... 1 in every 100 people who do not conform to stereotypical male and female phenotype.

Isn’t Mother Nature marvellous !!! Why can’t we rejoice in our diversity?

James Campbell
James Campbell5 years ago

Hmmm.... "“naturally born female”

Would someone care to explain this rather vague description for my benefit?

hint ... there is actually no one answer ....

(I should warn you that I have a medical degree and a Masters in genetics .......)

Ginger Strivelli
Ginger Strivelli5 years ago

you are what Mother Nature made matter what you pay some doctor to chop off or tack on. Nothing changes but the costume.