Jenna Talackova, the transgender Miss Universe Canada contestant who is a member of the Lake Babine First Nation, advanced to the penultimate round of the competition on Saturday, but did not make the final group of five.
The title went to Sahar Biniaz, also of Vancouver, but Talackova didn’t come away empty-handed; she was one of four contestants to share the title of Miss Congeniality.
Though she was disappointed when her run came to an end, the day after the competition Talackova was far from glum. “I never thought I would be wearing (the) crown of an advocate and it feels really good, I feel very honored,” she told the Canadian Press. “I was training for eight months, I was very dedicated and all of a sudden I was disqualified and for something that was so unjust. And now I’m a heroine in a lot of people’s eyes and it’s just made me so humbled and I wake up pinching myself.”
Gloria Allred, the high-profile lawyer and TV judge who represented Talackova in her campaign to be readmitted to the pageant, said that Talackova had already won something bigger than a sash and tiara. “She won an ‘herstoric’ civil rights victory,” Allred said, according to the Associated Press. “And that I think is frankly more important than anything, any victory she would win, even representing Miss Canada.”
Talackova has several plans for the future, including possibly writing a book. According to the Canadian Press, she has six years of journals she would like to turn into a self-help book for people dealing with similar issues. In an interview with CNN, Talackova said that she has not fully told her story, but she has gotten her essential message out: “People should embrace their individuality and follow their dreams like I did.”