It’s official: The Miss Universe pageant has decreed that transgender women can compete.
Moreover, Jenna Talackova has announced, via her appearance on The View, that she will do so. She had not said previously that a global rule change would woo her back into the contest.
After fighting to get back into the Miss Universe Canada competition following her disqualification, transgender woman and First Nation member Jenna Talackova has won a victory for all gender-reassigned females: She has convinced pageant owner Donald Trump to revise the rules of the international contest to allow transgender women to compete.
Last week, after a racy word battle between her attorney, Gloria Allred, and Trump and a press conference featuring Talackova, the Canadian competition rescinded the rule requiring that a contestant be a “natural born female.” On April 2 the pageant said in a statement that Talackova could compete “provided she meets the legal gender recognition requirements of Canada, and the standards established by other international competitions.”
Allred and Talackova said that wasn’t enough and insisted that pageant rules be changed to specifically allow transgender contestants. Talackova appeared on 20/20 with Barbara Walters on Friday April 6, along with her mother, telling the story of her journey from boy to woman.
“I felt like I was in the wrong body,” she said of her childhood. Her aboriginal community, the Lake Babine Nation of British Columbia, has supported her all the way through, as has her family, after some initial hesitation.
Meanwhile, Talackova told her story live to the crew of ABC’s The View on Monday April 9.
“I’ve always been attracted to everything feminine,” she said. Her father supported her first, she said, then her mother and three “macho” older brothers eventually accepted her new orientation. She began hormone treatments at age 14 and had “extremely painful” gender reassignment surgery at 19.
“They didn’t understand, but they grew to understand,” she said. “And now I’m the sister they’ve always dreamed of.”
As of Monday the rule was still being evaluated for the world. Last week’s change was for the U.S. and Canada only. The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) issued a statement jointly with the pageant making the announcement, emphasizing that the agreement was the result of negotiations undertaken even before Allred’s involvement.
“For more than two weeks, the Miss Universe Organization and Mr. Trump made it clear to GLAAD that they were open to making a policy change to include women who are transgender,” said GLAAD spokesperson Herndon Graddick. “We appreciate that he and his team responded swiftly and appropriately.”
“We want it stricken for the rest of the world,” said Allred, who appeared with Talackova on The View. “What’s there to evaluate? Just eliminate that rule.”
And continuing her push against discrimination, Talackova said she would indeed compete now that the rules have been changed to apply beyond the U.S. and Canada. She had not answered that question previously.
“I’ve saved [the announcement] for this show because everybody’s been asking if I’m going to compete, and yes, I’m going to compete,” she said.