Transgender beauty queen Jenna Talackova might fall short of claiming the Miss Universe Canada crown, but she didn't go home empty handed. The 23-year-old, who was initially disqualified from the pageant on the basis that she's not a "naturally born female", was one of four women voted "Miss Congeniality" by fellow contestants.
The title wasn't the only accomplishment Talackova made at the beauty competition. Taking the stage along with 61 other Canadian women in Toronto on Saturday, May 19 night, the 6-foot-1 blonde bombshell was one of the final 12 contestants competing for the crown. Unfortunately, she didn't make the cut for the Top 5.
During an intermission at the Saturday competition, Talackova's lawyer Gloria Allred told The Associated Press, "She's still a winner as far as I'm concerned." The high-profile attorney elaborated, "She won an 'herstoric' civil rights victory and that I think is frankly more important than anything, any victory she would win, even representing Miss Canada."
Born a male, Talackova was initially selected among 65 finalists for 2012 Miss Universe Canada. She, however, was disqualified from the competition after organizers found out she had undergone surgery to become a woman. The decision was reversed days later by the Trump Organization, which owns the pageant, following threats of a lawsuit and public outcry.
"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," Michael D. Cohen, executive vice president and special counsel to Donald Trump, said on April 2, "and the standards established by other international competitions."
While Talackova grabbed headlines as the first-ever transgender contestant to compete in Miss Universe Canada, this year's overall winner was Sahar Biniaz. Claiming the coveted crown, the 26-year-old from Vancouver will represent Canada in the international Miss Universe pageant in December.