Jenna Talackova can compete for the title of Miss Universe Canada after all. Michael D. Cohen, executive vice president and special counsel to Donald Trump, said on Monday, April 2 evening that organizers of the Miss Universe pageant have reversed their earlier decision in disqualifying the transgender beauty queen.
"The Miss Universe Organization will allow Jenna Talackova to compete in the 2012 Miss Universe Canada pageant provided she meets the legal gender recognition requirements of Canada," Cohen announced in an e-mailed statement, "and the standards established by other international competitions."
Before Cohen came out with the statement, Talackova and her attorney, Gloria Allred, announced a news conference in Los Angeles for Tuesday, April 3. Its press release read, "Ms. Allred will discuss why Jenna should be permitted to compete and what action she plans to take in the United States on behalf of Ms. Talackova if the Miss Universe Pageant refuses to change its discriminatory rule."
Born a male, 23-year-old Talackova was selected among 65 finalists for 2012 Miss Universe Canada. She was disqualified from the competition after organizers found out she had undergone surgery to become a woman. Explaining the disqualification, the organization said in a statement, "She did not meet the requirements to compete despite having stated otherwise on her entry form."
Neither Talackova nor Allred has responded to the lifting of her ban to compete, but GLAAD spokesperson Herndon Graddick has applauded Miss Universe Organization for making the right decision and taking an important first step. He added, "Now, GLAAD urges the Organization to include all women and use this incident to speak out in support of the transgender community."
"So many women today do not have equal opportunities for employment, housing and safety simply because they are transgender," Graddick continued on. "The Miss Universe Organization should look to state non-discrimination laws and institutions including the Olympics, NCAA and The CW's 'America's Next Top Model', which do not discriminate against transgender women."