Miss Universe Pageant to allow transgender participants

Jenna Talackova (R), attends a news conference with her attorney Gloria Allred on April 3, 2012 in Los Angeles, Talackova, 23. The Miss Universe Organization will now allow transgender contestants to compete.


Kevork Djansezian

After working closely with The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, the Miss Universe Pageant will now allow transgender women to participate in its competitions.

Less than a month ago, the pageant barred Jenna Talackova, a Canandian 23-year-old transgender woman, from participating based on her gender status.

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Miss Universe president Paula Shugart said in a statement that she, "wants to give credit where credit is due," and stressed, "the decision to include transgender women in our beauty competitions is a result of our ongoing discussions with GLAAD."

GLAAD representative Herndon Graddick said in a statement

“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. We appreciate that he and his team responded swiftly and appropriately. The Miss Universe Organization today follows institutions that have taken a stand against discrimination of transgender women including the Olympics, NCAA, the Girl Scouts of America and The CW’s America’s Next Top Model. Jenna and all of the LGBT advocates who have called for this change and spoken out in support of transgender women are to be commended. At a time when transgender people are still routinely denied equal opportunities in housing, employment and medical care, today’s decision is in line with the growing levels of public support for transgender people across the country.”

Talackova told the Associate Press she was "devastated" by the original ruling, which barred her from competing based on a rule that she must be "naturally born" a woman.

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Although the exact language of the change has not been finalized, changes will go into effect for the fall 2013 pageant season. The official rules will have to be approved by Donald Trump and NBC, which co-own the contest, according to the AP.

Trump, who runs the competition, wished her the best of luck.

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