Miss Universe finally reinstates transgender competitor

April 12, 2012

Celebrity

The Miss Universe Pageant with all its questionable attitudes to physical beauty might not be the most obvious source for a tale of happytimes pro-LGBTness, but the world is a big strange place and full of wonders. Yesterday the humbly-monickered Miss Universe Organisation announced that Miss Canada candidate Jenna Talackova would finally be permitted to compete, having previously been permitted on March 13, then summarily booted out ten days later because, as the MUO stated “She did not meet the requirements to compete despite having stated otherwise on her entry form.” Whatever that particularly gnarled piece of grammar really means.

Image via Jezebel

Talackova has made no attempt to disguise her identity or personal history: she has spoken openly about recognising her incorrect gender at age four, beginning hormone treatment at fourteen before undergoing reassignment surgery four years ago aged nineteen. Since that time she has represented Canada at the 2010 Miss International Queen, a competition specifically for trans women. The decision to allow her to compete was hailed by some as a huge step forward in recognising the complicated (though in some ways totally simple) nature of gender identification. Others saw it as sullying the waters of competitive pageantry, and briefly shouted loudest.

The turning point seems to have come last week when Talackova hired publicity-specialist lawyer Gloria Allred, who has recently stuck her exquisitely bouffanted head into cases against Rush Limbaugh, Herman Cain and Tiger Woods among others. Donald Trump, who co-owns the MUO, has since stated that Allred’s involvement was not a factor in the reversal of the MUO’s policy and actually slowed down Talackova’s reinstatement. Difficult to tell how far that is true, given Trump’s history as a sore loser, and he does have a point when he brings up Allred’s win-loss record. The salient point is that Trump, after some fairly indifferent support given to Talackova’s case, has come down on the side of openness and respect. As Jezebel puts it, it’s likely more to do with the public pressure that Donald’s heart growing three sizes, but a win is a win.

As for Talackova, you can hear the relief in an interview from last week:

“I didn’t know there’d be this much controversy, I was just entering because I wanted to represent Canada. I think I’m a beautiful woman inside and out, and I think I would’ve done the job…

I’m a woman and I feel like the universe, the Creator, just put me in this position as an advocate. If it’s helping anybody else—my story and my actions—then I feel great about it.”

Now we can all chill out and look forward to the more regular craziness of having women compete about who is more subjectively beautiful for the entertainment of the masses. Progress!

Have you been following the saga over the last month? Give us your take in the comments.

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