Lifestyle & Belief

Jenna Talackova, transgender Miss Universe Canada contestant, misses out


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

Jenna Talackova, the first-ever transgender contestant to compete in the Miss Universe Canada pageant, has lost her bid to win the title despite making the finals.

Talackova, 23, born Walter Talackova, lost to another Vancouver contestant, Sahar Biniaz, 26, the Associated Press reported.

Talackova underwent a sex change four years ago and was initially denied entry to the pageant, but Donald Trump, who runs the Miss Universe organization, overruled the decision.

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CBC News reported that a panel of 15 judges, including celebrity designers Colin McAllister and Justin Ryan, actress Kristin Booth and singer Kreesha Turner, picked the winner.

Biniaz will now compete in the international Miss Universe competition in December.'

Jillian Page, of the Montreal Gazette, wrote that Talackova may not have won the contest but she was "a big winner in my eyes, and in the eyes of many, many other people around the world" for standing up for her rights as a woman.
Talackova's lawyer Gloria Allred said that Talackova shouldn't feel too disappointed.

"She's still a winner as far as I'm concerned," Allred said, according to CBC. "She won an 'herstoric' civil rights victory and that I think is frankly more important than anything, any victory she would win, even representing Miss Canada."

Commenting on Trump's decision to permit transgender contenders, she urged him to take a clear stand against discrimination.

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"We would like Donald Trump to be the leader in this civil rights battle and say that even if there are no laws protecting against discrimination we — the Miss Universe Organization — we are going to lead the way and say that it is wrong to discriminate," says Allred, who flew to Toronto from Los Angeles to support Talackova.

Miss Universe publicity director Brenda Mendoza said that while transgender competitors were welcome at its pageants around the world, it was being left to the individual franchises to determine if the recent policy change was carried out.