Transgender on the Pageant Circuit

What support for Jenna Talackova means for gender identity awareness

Miss Universe disqualified Jenna Talackova for being transgender (courtesy of

Whether you’re in favor of pageants – or not – the fact that Miss Universe disqualified a contender because she’s transgender has us scratching our heads. Jenna Talackova is a 23-year-old Vancouver native who lives and identifies as a woman. So it stands to reason that as a woman, she would be entitled to enter the Miss Universe pageant in Canada which is owned and operated by Donald Trump. But he confirmed last week that Talackova was disqualified after officials learned that she was not born as a biological woman.

In a statement, Miss Universe officials said she “did not meet the requirements to compete despite having stated otherwise on her entry form.”

But according to the guidelines, contestants for Canada’s Miss Universe must be between the ages of 18 and 27 and be Canadian citizens. Talackova fits both qualifications. There’s no mention of surgery – specifically sexual reassignment surgery that the 6-foot-one blonde admits she has undergone. She had been using hormone therapy since she was 17 before undergoing surgery at the age of 19.

“I’m not going to just let them disqualify me over discrimination,” Talackova told a newspaper.

She’s already attracted support on Twitter and Facebook. There’s even a petition on asking for officials to reconsider her application to complete, saying, “This is discriminatory, unjust, and quite frankly disgusting. 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. This petition is to get her reinstated as a contestant, since she was unfairly disqualified.”

Almost 40,000 supporters signed the petition as of press time. We hope that Trump (though not exactly a supporter of LGBT rights) will reconsider. Sadly, Miss Universe has a history of discriminating against transgender women. In 2004, Chen Lili, a 24-year-old model, was also disqualified after the pageant learned she, too, was transgender.

What do you think? Should Miss Universe reconsider their policy? Should transgender women be able to compete?