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Transgender Pageant Contestant, Jenna Talackova, Wins Miss Congeniality

Transgender Pageant Contestant, Jenna Talackova, Wins Miss Congeniality

In March, the Miss Universe Canada pageant disqualified Jenna Talackova from competing. The reason? Talackova is a transgender woman and pageant organizers claimed that only “naturally born” females were allowed to compete, barring Talackova from the pageant. Organizers used clearly discriminatory language when instating this new rule, pushing Talackova out of the competition because of her transgender history.

After a huge public outcry and a potential lawsuit, the Trump Organization was forced to admit there was no reason that Talackova could not compete with the other women in the pageant. The organization only vaguely stated that she met the overall qualifications for a Canadian woman to compete, rescinding the original decision and leaving many questions unanswered regarding the previous discrimination against Talackova as a transgender woman.

After the tumultuous weeks of indecision in March and April, Talackova finally competed in the Miss Universe Canada pageant this past weekend and made headlines when she captured the Miss Congeniality award. Surprisingly, many headlines focused on Talackova’s loss to other contestants, although she placed among the top 12. The Associated Press headline stated, “Transgender Miss Universe Canada contestant loses.” Others gave a nod to her win as “Miss Congeniality” and her overall success in making it so far in the competition.

Although Jenna Talackova has stated she never intended to cause a controversy by entering the pageant, her story has now become a rallying point for highlighting discrimination based upon sex and gender identities and histories. Transgender discrimination plagues organizations, such as the Trump Organization, headed by the memorable Donald Trump, who often tries to play the role of the moral leader of pageant contestants.

Only six years ago, Trump played up this very savior role to pageant contestant Tara Conner when he allowed her to continue on as Miss America. Her personal life was scandalized after she was accused of having drinking problems and unreliable relationships with men. Both allegations intruded on Conner’s privacy and made a spectacle of her personal decisions after Trump decided to allow her to retain her crown.

The pageant world is by no means the safest or most ideal place for female bodies, making Talackova’s strong stance and insistence on competing that much more substantial. Female bodies are put on display in a variety of outfits, their behaviors, talents and histories scrutinized and judged, which means that the open and honest Talackova placed herself in a challenging role as an icon of transgender beauty and inclusion.

All of the controversy Talackova has faced in the last few months has also created a wonderful fan base of supporters and allies in the LGBT community. Her Twitter page is filled with fan notes encouraging her to continue on her path. Her story, at the young age of 23, has helped to uncover and highlight the broad discrimination that transgender people face on an institutional level and to create new images, voices and stories.

Related Stories:

Transgender Rights are a Feminist Issue

Transgender Teacher Forced to Quit Job in New Mexico

Another Transgender Murder: Is Anyone Paying Attention?

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Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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64 comments

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4:27AM PDT on Jun 8, 2012

Real women have no place in the world anymore, thanks for opening my eyes.

11:23AM PDT on May 23, 2012

Although I personally find "beauty" pageants the stuff of misogynistic nightmares, I applaud Ms. Talackova for taking part in a pageant that SHE wanted to and that SHE was entitled to.

10:46AM PDT on May 23, 2012

thanks for the post

7:07AM PDT on May 23, 2012

nice, even though i agree there are more important things to worry about than beauty pageants.

3:03AM PDT on May 23, 2012

Pageants are stupid...get on and do something more important for the planet whatever your chromosomes or frock size

12:50AM PDT on May 23, 2012

Thanks for sharing

10:54PM PDT on May 22, 2012

There is something not quite right when the winner is never announced. I still don't know who won. However, I don't like beauty pageants anyway, but I assume somebody won.

9:47PM PDT on May 22, 2012

More proof that pageants are very political.

9:16PM PDT on May 22, 2012

A woman is a woman is a woman. Naturally, some dodo has to make a big ado about nothing.

9:05PM PDT on May 22, 2012

ah, everybody likes to be pretty.

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