Starting in the upcoming pageant year, the Miss Universe contest will admit transgendered women, following an appeal from a contestant in this year's Miss Canada beauty pageant. Vancouver resident Jenna Talackova, who underwent a sex change operation four years ago, was disqualified by Canadian officials when they learned Talackova was originally born a male.
Jenna Talackova, a transgendered woman, will be allowed to compete in the trials of the Miss Canada competition, part of the Miss Universe contest.
Jenna Talackova, a transgendered woman, will be allowed to compete in the trials of the Miss Canada competition, part of the Miss Universe contest. Reed Saxon/AP
With the assistance of her lawyer, Gloria Allred, and GLAAD, an LGBT advocacy organization, Jenna urged pageant owner Donald Trump, to change the rule and he agreed.
Now the 23-year-old will compete in May for the Canadian crown and if she wins, she'll represent her country in the Miss Universe competition, notes the Hollywood Reporter. Any transgender woman may compete starting in 2013.
The GLAAD website praised the beauty pageant, saying it's "in line with the growing levels of public support for transgender people across the country".
Paula Shugart, president of the Miss Universe Organization, said a decision to include transgender women in pageants came about through talks with GLAAD - and not with Talackova's legal representation, saying "This was something we took very seriously."
So did Talackova, who told AP her initial disqualification was heartbreaking. "I am a woman...I never asked for any special consideration. I only wanted to compete."