Thanks to Jenna Talackova, transgender women are now allowed to compete at the biggest beauty pageant. Miss Universe Organization (MUO) announced on Tuesday, April 10 that the decision to include non naturally-born female is in line with their support of "equality for all women".
Talackova was disqualified from the pageant when she submitted the entry form citing "female" while she actually was born "male". The 23-year-old begged the MUO to change the rule, reasoning, "I am a woman. 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." She has since been granted the wish.
Talackova, who represents Canada in the upcoming pageant and had sex change four years ago, received the support from advocacy group GLAAD who brought the issue up in an aggressive dialogue. "For more than two weeks, the Miss Universe Organization and Mr. Trump made it clear to GLAAD that they were open to making a policy change to include women who are transgender," GLAAD's spokesperson Herndon Graddick said. "We appreciate that he and his team responded swiftly and appropriately."
Graddick added, "The Miss Universe Organization today follows institutions that have taken a stand against discrimination of transgender women including the Olympics, NCAA, the Girl Scouts of America and The CW's America's Next Top Model. At a time when transgender people are still routinely denied equal opportunities in housing, employment and medical care, today's decision is in line with the growing levels of public support for transgender people across the country."
Paula Shugart, president of the Miss Universe Organization, also released a statement, saying, "We want to give credit where credit is due. And the decision to include transgender women in our beauty competitions is a result of our ongoing discussions with GLAAD and not Jenna's legal representation, which if anything delayed the process. We have a long history of supporting equality for all women, and this was something we took very seriously."
MUO, which is owned by Donald Trump, is now close to finalizing the policy change. It may prompt other beauty pageants to take similar action as it will kick off just in time for the fall 2013 pageant season.