VANCOUVER, B.C. — A beauty pageant contestant has been disqualified from the Miss Universe Canada competition after the organizers discovered that she had undergone surgery to become a woman. Pageant organizers said that according to official rules, each contestant must be a “naturally born female.”
Jenna Talackova, a 23-year-old transgender woman, had reached the finals of the Miss Vancouver competition, but was ousted from the competition because organizers said she lied about having undergone sexual reassignment surgery and did not meet requirements for the pageant.
“All I can say is that they disqualified me because I am not ‘natural born,’” Talackova said Friday in an email to the Vancouver Sun. “(That) doesn’t make sense because since I was conscious I always felt this way.”
Talackova told the Sun she has identified as female since age four, began hormone therapy at 14 and had sex reassignment surgery in 2010.
According to a statement issued Friday by the Miss Universe Canada organization, Talackova “did not meet the requirements to compete despite having stated otherwise on her entry form.”
“As with any competition, the Miss Universe pageant has rules which apply to all of its franchises around the world. Such rules include, but are not limited to, citizenship, age, and marital status requirements. Additionally, the rules currently state that all contestants must be naturally born females,” the Miss Universe Organization said.
CNN noted that those rules are not specifically mentioned on the Miss Universe website.
Michael Cole-Schwartz, spokesman for the LGBT advocacy group Human Rights Campaign, called the decision unfair and unnecessary.
“Jenna is a woman,” he said. “She presents as a woman, she lives as a woman, and that’s all that matters.”
“Any term that separates her from any other woman is demeaning,” Cole-Schwartz added.
Rory Richards, a spokeswoman for the 23-year-old Vancouver resident, said Talackova will not be able to talk to reporters pending possible legal action.
The Miss Universe Canada pageant is a franchise licensed by the Miss Universe Organization, headed by U.S. business magnate Donald Trump.