UPDATE: Jenna’s back in the pageant!
Lake Babine First Nation member Jenna Talackova was born male. Four years ago, though, she underwent a sex change operation. Today she is a 23-year-old woman striking enough to make it into the Canadian Miss Universe Pageant.
Enter Donald Trump, whose pageant has disqualified her for being formerly male. The decision came down shortly after it was revealed that Talackova was transgender. Talackova, selected from among 65 finalists for the May competition to be held in Toronto, has refused to back down.
“I’m disqualified, however I’m not giving up,” she tweeted after getting the news. “I’m not going to just let them disqualify me over discrimination.”
She and attorney Gloria Allred, known for taking on high-profile cases, held a press conference in Los Angeles on Tuesday.
“Jenna entered this competition and gave the pageant her time, her best efforts and her money,” Allred said at the press conference, Talackova at her side, as TMZ reported. “She did not think for one moment that what she looked like at birth would be relevant. She did not ask Mr. Trump to prove that he is a naturally born man, or to see the photos of his birth to view his anatomy to prove he was male. It made no difference to her. Why should it have made a difference to him?”
Supporters of the six-foot-tall transgender beauty are circulating a petition via the Internet asking that Talackova be reinstated.
“Ms. Talackova has been disqualified from the Miss Universe Canada contest solely for being transgender,” says the petition, started by one Oscar Dimant in Brooklyn, New York. “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.”
Pageant rules say that entrants must be “naturally born” females, according to the Associated Press. On April 2 the pageant posted a statement on its website saying that Talackova can compete “provided she meets the legal gender recognition requirements of Canada, and the standards established by other international competitions.”
Allred said that the pageant’s statement did not go far enough by not eliminating the transgender rule entirely and said she and Talackova “are considering all of Jenna’s leagal options,” and has met with legal teams in Canada, New York and California.