Transgender Woman Booted from Miss Universe Canada

by Jason St. Amand

National News Editor

Tuesday March 27, 2012

Jenna Talackova, 23, was removed from the Miss Universe Canada pageant after the event's officials learned that the model is a transgender woman.

Talackova will not be permitted to enter the pageant's final round, which will be held in May. Miss Universe Canada's national director Denis Davila says that all competitors must be a "naturally born female." But LGBT rights activist and Talackova have criticized the officials' decision to disqualify her from the competition as the rules do not specifically mention sex changes or plastic surgery.

The Vancouver beauty queen says that she knew she was born in the wrong body since she was just four. She began hormone therapy at age 14 and got a sex change at 19.

"All I can say is that they disqualified me because I'm not 'natural born,' she told the National Post. "[That] doesn't make sense because since I was conscious, I always felt this way."

Soon after officials banned her from the pageant, Talackova took to Twitter and wrote, "I'm disqualified, however I'm not giving up. I'm not going to just let them disqualify me over discrimination." Since the tweet, her account has been set to private. She also said she is not doing any interviews until she talks to a lawyer.

Talackova has competed in other women's beauty pageants as well as competitions for transgender people.

An online petition to support Talackova has been created and over 35,000 people have signed it in hopes that Miss Universe Canada's officials will allow her back into the competition. "She is a woman and deserves to be treated as any other woman would be. What kind of genitals she was or was not born with (and even what kind of genitals she has today) is completely irrelevant" the petition says.

Talackova isn't the only transgender model to enter a national beauty pageant. In January 18-year-old Jackie Green said that she was in the process of entering Miss England, which is an annual beauty pageant for females between 17 and 24 years old. Green is also the UK's youngest transgender person after receiving a sex change in Thailand when she was 16.

"I went to the Britain's Next Top Model show in London and was really surprised when scouts came up to me," Green said. "Miss England is a prestigious competition. I'd love to win. I've as good a chance as anyone."

In California, two open lesbians competed in the Miss California USA pageant earlier this year, which made them the first openly gay participates since the competition started 60 years ago.

Jenelle Hutcherson, 26, and Mollie Thomas, 19, were up against 400 woman who were competing to be crowned Miss California. Unfortunately, they both lost but Thomas said she entered the contest because she wanted to represent the LGBT community in a positive light.

"I'm running for equality and will use this in order to promote visibility on current issues, to become a youth advocate and a role model," she said in an interview before the competition.